NASA’s Kepler telescope finds 26 new planets
Kepler, NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope, has found 11 new planetary systems, including one with five planets all orbiting closer to their parent star than Mercury circles the Sun, scientists said on Thursday.
The discoveries boost the list of confirmed planets outside the Earth’s solar system to 729, including 60 found by the Kepler team. The telescope, launched in space in March 2009, can detect slight but regular dips in the amount of light coming from stars. Scientists can then determine if the changes are caused by orbiting planets passing by, relative to Kepler’s view.
Kepler scientists have another 2,300 candidate planets awaiting additional confirmation. (Photos/illustrations by NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech; University of Toulouse; Reuters/AFP/Getty Images)