This week NASA announced its discovery and validation of the existence of 1,284 planets that were not previously known. This announcement includes nine planets possessing the potential to host life. Through using the Kepler Space Telescope, this latest discovery announcement more than doubles the number of exoplanets orbiting a star other than our Sun that have been found with the instrument.
Associate research scholar with Princeton University, Timothy Morton stated, “Today we are announcing the discovery of 1,284 exoplanets. This is the most exoplanets ever announced at one time.”
The astounding haul of discoveries proves to be the result of a new approach for validating recently discovered planets. This method determines whether a planet is actually an astronomical imposter or not. Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters, Paul Hertz added, “One of the great questions of all time is whether we are alone in the universe. We live in a time when humanity can answer this question, and one of the first steps is to detect planets around other stars, or exoplanets.”
“Today’s announcement adds dramatically to the number of planets confirmed by the Kepler Telescope.”
While NASA has maintained vast datasets on potential planets for quite some time, it was previously very difficult to confirm whether such planets were genuine or not. NASA’s media release explains:
“A new statistical validation technique enables researchers to quantify the probability that any given candidate signal is in fact caused by a planet, without requiring any follow-up observations.”
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