715 New Plants? I love to see new discoveries, this one should get a lot more headline space. To think that there’s another planet out there that is similar to Earth and bigger, makes me wonder what we’re missing.
There’s a rule of thumb that can come in handy when you hear about new planet discoveries from the Kepler space mission. If they’re talking about a handful of new worlds orbiting distant stars, it’s an actual discovery. If they’re talking about hundreds, it’s not actual planets but “planet candidates,” which haven’t yet been independently verified — a key step before scientists can claim they’ve genuinely found something.
But the latest announcement from the Kepler science team has just turned that reliable rule on its head. As of yesterday, astronomers knew of about a thousand verified planets beyond our solar system, the majority of them found with telescopes other than Kepler. Today, Kepler added an unprecedented 715 new ones to the list, nearly doubling the count of bona fide exoplanets known to science. “For years, I’ve trained myself to say ‘planet candidate’ rather than ‘planet’ most of the…
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