News / Science & Technology

    US Space Telescope Spots 715 More Planets

    FILE - Part of the Milky Way galaxy as seen from Australia. (AP)
    FILE - Part of the Milky Way galaxy as seen from Australia. (AP)
    Reuters
    Scientists added a record 715 additional planets to the list of known worlds beyond the solar system, boosting the overall tally to nearly 1,700, astronomers said on Wednesday.

    The additions include four planets about 2.5 times as big as Earth that are the right distance from their parent stars for liquid surface water, which is believed to be key for life.

    The discoveries were made with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope before it was sidelined by a pointing system problem last year. The telescope, launched in 2009, spent four productive years staring at 160,000 target stars for signs of planets passing by, relative to the telescope's line of sight.

    The tally of planets announced at a NASA press conference on Wednesday boosted Kepler's confirmed planet count from 246 to 961.

    Combined with other telescopes' results, the headcount of planets beyond the solar system, or exoplanets, now numbers nearly 1,700.

    “We almost doubled, just today, the number of planets known to humanity,” astronomer Douglas Hudgins, head of exoplanet exploration at NASA Headquarters in Washington, told reporters on a conference call.

    The population boom is due to a new verification technique that analyzes potential planets in batches rather than one at a time. The method was developed after scientists realized that most planets, like those in the solar system, have sibling worlds orbiting a common parent star.

    The newly found planets reinforce evidence that small planets, two to three times the size of Earth, are common throughout the galaxy.

    “Literally, wherever [Kepler] can see them, it finds them,” said astronomer Sara Seager, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “That's why we have confidence that there will be planets like Earth in other places.”

    Like the solar system, which has eight planets plus Pluto and other so-called “dwarf planets,” the newly found exoplanets belong in families.

    But unlike the solar system's planets, which span from inner Mercury to outer Neptune some 150 times farther from the sun than Earth, the Kepler clans are bunched in close.

    Most of the planets fly nearer to their parent stars than Venus orbits the sun, a distance of about 67 million miles [108 million kilometers].

    NASA and other space agencies are designing follow-on telescopes to home in on planets in so-called “habitable zones” around their parent stars where temperatures would be suitable for liquid surface water.

    Two papers on the new Kepler research will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Perry Neheum from: Woodbridge, VA
    March 03, 2014 2:06 PM
    Man, you just know all the earth's Bible and Jesus freaks are freakin' out!

    Whoa! I mean, how many of these (and millions and millions of other) planets have their own god(s) and sons of gods?

    Roman Catholics especially aren't gonna like this. They're probably prayin' that their "God" destroy his (her?) rivals!

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    February 28, 2014 9:56 AM
    Always in search of source of life. Now do we go to outer space to look at exoplanets? Tell me something; if it takes light millions of years traveling at ultra high frequency velocity to reach the earth, how long will it take our known transport jets - the type used for space travels by NASA et al - to reach these planets? Then if you see that nothing on earth can ever travel to these planets in a foreseeable future, do you wonder what they exist for? The bottom line is that man on earth is either becoming useless to himself in these matters trying to antagonize God, or it is the malfunctioning of their telescopes that creates those images and mirages now interpreted to be exoplanets.

    But there is only one who can make it possible to travel to those planets and beyond, and also return to earth just in one day. In the morning he told the woman, "don't touch, I have not yet gone to my father", and in the evening he was saying to his friends, "touch me, put your hand here; doubt no more... you believe because you can see me, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe". And his friend said, "my Lord and my God".

    by: k from: q
    February 26, 2014 11:09 PM
    With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for vastness of Space.
    And We have spread out the (spacious) earth: how excellently We do spread out!.

    by: mark westberg from: Minneapolis
    February 26, 2014 11:04 PM
    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

    by: Joanne from: Austin Tx.
    February 26, 2014 10:15 PM
    We are not alone

    by: olgalaporte from: battleground, wa.
    February 26, 2014 10:08 PM
    Sweet!

    by: jonathan from: ny
    February 26, 2014 10:05 PM
    Interesting to hear about and read articles like this

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora