Thursday, February 27, 2014

715 New Planets Found By Kepler

Carl Sagan made his famous "pale blue dot" speech with the intent of showing the uniqueness and loneliness of earth, lost in space. Earth is surrounded by a lot of space, that's true. But it is hardly the only planet in the galaxy which is inhabitable. NASA keeps identifying more and more planets which exist in the inhabitable zone of their host stars, with 715 new finds just announced.
"NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system. Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.

"The Kepler team continues to amaze and excite us with their planet hunting results," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "That these new planets and solar systems look somewhat like our own, portends a great future when we have the James Webb Space Telescope in space to characterize the new worlds.”
With newer and better optics in the works, probably more will be found. These finds are just those where the planet passes in front of the star, dimming it slightly. So we only detect planets orbiting in planes which include us. There are, in all probability, planets orbiting in undetectable planes too, possibly many times the number we are detecting now.

While all these planets are indeed too far to emigrate to, perhaps that is a good thing; we don't need to be fighting over another one.

1 comment:

Robert Coble said...

C'mon, Stan: have a little "faith." We don't know everything yet, but we're working on it. Sooner or later, we are going to develop the warp drive, and then we will be able to boldly go where no human being has ever gone before - to infinity and beyond, just like Buzz Lightyear!

(My tongue is firmly planted in mycheek.)