11 new planetary systems with 26 confirmed planets discovered by NASA Kepler space telescope

By on Jan 27, 2012 in Astronomy, Science Comments

Updated: August 29, 2012 11:45 a.m.

Read Kepler-47 system: Two planets with two suns discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Thursday, January 26, 2012 the discovery of 11 new planetary systems with 26 confirmed planets.

According to a report by NASA on its official website that day, the latest planetary systems was discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission, in addition of its earlier discoveries, including the Kepler-20E and Kepler-20F.

As noted in the report, the 26 new planets has nearly double the number of verified Kepler planets, which is now 61, with the last two new planets discovered last December noted to have the same size as the Earth.

On the same month, NASA announced the discovery of Kepler-22b, which was described as being located in a “habitable zone” since water could exist, and is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth.

“Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky,” Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, was quoted on the recent report, with the study also published in the Astrophysical Journal and the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates. This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits.” Hudgins added.

Meanwhile, five of the systems (Kepler-25, Kepler-27, Kepler-30, Kepler-31, and Kepler-33) were said to be containing a pair of planets, in which the inner planet orbits the star twice during each orbit of the outer planet.

On the other hand, four of the systems (Kepler-23, Kepler-24, Kepler-28, and Kepler-32) also has a 2 planets, where the outer planet circles the star twice for every three times the inner planet orbits its star.

NASA noted that the newly discovered planets orbit notably close to their host stars and their sizes ranges from 1.5 times the radius of the Earth to larger than that of Jupiter, the biggest planet so far.

Apparently, 15 of them have the sizes between the sizes of Earth and Neptune, which all the 26 new planets orbit their host star once every six to 143 days and are closer to their host star than Venus is to our sun.

Atrist’s sketch of an overhead view of orbital positions of the planets in the new 11 planetary systems
Image Credit: NASA Ames/Dan Fabrycky, UC Santa Cruz

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