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Space & Astronomy

Kepler discovers new extrasolar planet

December 21, 2014 | Comment icon 7 comments



Kepler is back and has already found its first new extrasolar planet. Image Credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Kepler space telescope has made its first discovery since being crippled by a technical fault.
Located 180 light years away in the constellation Pisces, the new planet is what is known as a 'super earth' because it is 2.5 times larger and 12 times more massive than our own planet.

"Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries," said study lead author Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"Even better, the planet it found is ripe for follow-up studies"
Launched in 2009, Kepler famously discovered a whopping 1,000 confirmed planets and at least 3,200 other candidate worlds during its initial three-and-a-half year mission.

In 2013 however the failure of two of its reaction wheels crippled its ability to precisely aim towards distant stars, something that it needed to do in order to pick up signs of orbiting exoplanets.

Fortunately scientists were able to devise a clever workaround using the subtle pressure of sunlight to help stabilize the spacecraft and thus enabling it to begin a new two-year planet hunting mission.

Source: NBC News | Comments (7)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by toast 8 years ago
Just less than 20 years ago such news would had been called a hoax, nowadays regular discoveries of extrasolar planets are a routine in our reality. We are living in exciting times, viewed from an astronomical point of view.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Oxo1 8 years ago
I think the discovery of these extrasolar planets by Kepler, clearly demonstrates that there must be countless other extrasolar throughout the universe. This is very good news, for those of us who believe life exists on other planets.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Merc14 8 years ago
I think the discovery of these extrasolar planets by Kepler, clearly demonstrates that there must be countless other extrasolar throughout the universe. This is very good news, for those of us who believe life exists on other planets. Since Kepler's, and other observatories, discoveries the number of earth-like planets estimated to be in our galaxy has been increased greatly. Astronomers now estimate there are 8.8 billion stars with earth-like planets orbiting them in the "habitable" zone. Another hypothesis gaining in popularity is that Red Dwarf stars (M Class), which possibly make up 80% of... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by Dark_Grey 8 years ago
On the flip side, gamma ray bursts may be the limiting factor on the development of advanced civilizations. http://www.universet...ies-says-study/ Gamma ray bursts, solar flares and of course hunks of rock slamming into the planet...it seems like life can found in some pretty extraordinary places but to keep that planet sheltered long enough for life to develop (aka Earth,) takes a whole lot of luck!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Merc14 8 years ago
Gamma ray bursts, solar flares and of course hunks of rock slamming into the planet...it seems like life can found in some pretty extraordinary places but to keep that planet sheltered long enough for life to develop (aka Earth,) takes a whole lot of luck! I think a species must develop the technology to protect itself from these hazards or perish. People ask why are we sending multi-billion dollar telescopes into space and spending so much time and money trying to understand quantum physics at the LHC when there is starvation in the world. One big answer is right here, we discover the secrets... [More]
Comment icon #6 Posted by Dark_Grey 8 years ago
I think a species must develop the technology to protect itself from these hazards or perish. People ask why are we sending multi-billion dollar telescopes into space and spending so much time and money trying to understand quantum physics at the LHC when there is starvation in the world. One big answer is right here, we discover the secrets of the universe or perish by them. Oddly enough I was talking with the wife about that over the weekend. In a way it's like there are two Earth's; one is highly advanced and ready to branch out into the cosmos, the other is struggling to find clean water w... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by coolguy 8 years ago
I bet there can be some kind of life maybe people or alien


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