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

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora