Astronomers Find Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

100 New Planets K2 Mission

Credits NASA Ames W Stenzel – Kepler’s Second Light How K2 Works

That brings the K2 count to 292, and the aggregate pull over Kepler's whole operational life to nearly 2,440 - around 66% of all the outsider universes at any point found.

Mayo and his team had to analyze hundreds of signals to determine which were caused by exoplanets dipping in front of their host stars, and which were something else entirely. K2 mission captures target and analyzes the dip in light registered which could happen because of the shadow cast by planets on their starts.

During the latest research, the team found that some of the signals coming from the 275 candidate exoplanets they were investigating were actually being caused by multiple star systems or noise from the spacecraft.

NASA's K2 mission-the current focus of the Kepler spacecraft-has revealed 95 new planets beyond our solar system.

In turn 95 of these planets have proved to be new discoveries, Mayo said. The discovery, published Thursday in the Astronomical Journal, is good news for scientists trying to figure out what planets beyond our solar system might be like. The Kepler telescope had a mechanical failure in 2013 after observing one swath of space for four years, picking up faraway, dim planets and stars. A method was figured out by astronomers and engineers to re-purpose and save the space telescope by changing its field of view periodically. This planet was orbiting around its own star, just like the Earth does with the Sun.

"The most interesting thing about this new release of planets is that they orbit stars that are quite bright relative to the original Kepler mission, so many will be excellent targets for follow-up observations such as mass measurements and atmospheric characterisation", Mayo said.

The artistic concept shows NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. One of the new exoplanets was orbiting around the star HD 212657, the brightest star found to date by either the Kepler or K2 missions, according to Mayo, now a postdoctoral student at the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark. Today some 3,600 exoplanets have been found, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter. "But we also detected planets that range from sub-Earth-sized to the size of Jupiter and larger", Mayo said.

And with upcoming missions, such as the powerful James Webb Telescope and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, astronomers will be able to make unprecedented observations of these planets and identify which may be capable of supporting life, among other goals.

And this is truly important - if we discover other planets, astronomers will get a better idea of what's in there, and what's the nature of those planets and things will be put in perspective.

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