NASA has released catalogue of 4,034 planets of which 2,335 are exoplanets and ten planets found similar to earth in size and habitability. These 10 planets orbit with their star’s habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.
Available on the NASA Exoplanet Archive, the catalogue has 4,034 planets of which, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets, with 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, of whom more than 30 have been verified and 10 of them have been found earth-like. The findings were presented at a news conference on Monday at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.
“The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs – planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth,” said Mario Perez, Kepler program scientist in the Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth.”
This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog, that will enable scientists to determine what planetary populations – from rocky bodies the size of Earth, to gas giants the size of Jupiter – make up the galaxy’s planetary demographics.
It seems that nature commonly makes rocky planets up to about 75 percent bigger than Earth. For reasons scientists don’t yet understand, about half of those planets take on a small amount of hydrogen and helium that dramatically swells their size, allowing them to “jump the gap” and join the population closer to Neptune’s size.
The Kepler spacecraft continues to make observations in new patches of sky in its extended mission, searching for planets and studying a variety of interesting astronomical objects, from distant star clusters to objects such as the TRAPPIST-1 system of seven Earth-size planets, closer to home.
Launched in 2009, Kepler has identified more than 5,000 planet candidates. Of these, more than 2,500 have been verified as bona-fide planets, including a dozen that are less than twice the size of Earth and reside in the habitable zone of their host star. The habitable zone is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.