Saturday, January 09, 2016

NASA Confirms 100 New Alien Planets

By Nadia Drake

The revamped Kepler mission is raking in the discoveries, turning up new kinds of worlds.


After being crippled by a mechanical malfunction, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft is back in action and has found a slew of planets orbiting other stars.

Called K2, the revamped mission has already found more than 100 confirmed planets, the University of Arizona’s Ian Crossfield announced Tuesday at a conference of the American Astronomical Society. Some of these are very different from what the spacecraft observed during its original mission; many are in multi-planet systems and orbit stars that are brighter and hotter than the stars in the original Kepler field.

It has found a system with three planets that are bigger than Earth, spotted a planet in the Hyades star cluster—the nearest open star cluster to Earth—and discovered a planet being ripped apart as it orbits a white dwarf star.

Scientists have also found 234 possible planets that are awaiting confirmation, said Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.[...]

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