Kepler has discovered more than 100 new planets
An international team of astronomers has confirmed the discovery of more than 100 new exoplanets spotted by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft during its K2 mission.
The discovery includes four planets in the size range of Earth that are orbiting a single dwarf star.
The planets orbit the M dwarf K2-72 that is found by looking in the direction of the Aquarius constellation 181 light years away. The star is less than half the size of the Sun and less bright.
Out of those four planets, two are in the star’s “habitable” zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface.
The planets are small rocky worlds closer to their star than Mercury is to our sun. But because the star is smaller and cooler than ours, its habitable zone is much closer.
The planets’ orbital periods range from five and a half to 24 days, and two of them may experience irradiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth.
Kepler was launched in 2009 to search for Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars. The new planets bring the number of confirmed Kepler planets to 3,473.