NASA discovers 715 new planets - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

NASA discovers 715 new planets

Posted: Updated:

MILKY WAY, Universe (CNN) -- Our galactic neighborhood just got a lot bigger. NASA on Wednesday announced the discovery of 715 new planets, by far the biggest batch of planets ever unveiled at once.

By way of comparison, about 1,000 planets total had been identified in our galaxy before Wednesday.

Four of those planets are in what NASA calls the "habitable zone," meaning they have the makeup to potentially support life.

The planets, which orbit 305 different stars, were discovered by the Kepler space telescope and were verified using a new technique that scientists expect to make new planetary discoveries more frequent and more detailed.

"We've been able to open the bottleneck to access the mother lode and deliver to you more than 20 times as many planets as has ever been found and announced at once," said Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California.

Launched in March 2009, the Kepler space observatory was the first NASA mission to find planets similar to Earth that are in, or near, habitable zones -- defined as planets that are the right distance from a star for a moderate temperature that might sustain liquid water.

Tuesday's planets all were verified using data from the first two years of Kepler's voyage, meaning there may be many more to come.

"Kepler has really been a game-changer for our understanding of the incredible diversity of planets and planetary systems in our galaxy," said Douglas Hudgins, a scientist with NASA's astrophysics division.

The new technique is called "verification by multiplicity," and relies in part on the logic of probability. Instead of searching blindly, the team focused on stars that the technique suggests are likely to have more than one planet in their orbit.

NASA says 95% of the planets discovered by Kepler are smaller than Neptune, which is four times as big as Earth.

One of them is about twice the size of Earth and orbits a star half the size of Earth's sun in a 30-day cycle.

The other three planets in habitable zones also are all roughly twice the size of Earth. Scientists said the multiplicity technique is biased toward first discovering planets close to their star and that, when further data comes in, they expect to find a higher percentage of new planets that could potentially have a life-supporting climate like Earth's.

"The more we explore the more we find familiar traces of ourselves amongst the stars that remind us of home," said Jason Rowe, a research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and co-leader of the research team.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Ice Bucket Challenge made to Tioga Detectives

    Ice Bucket Challenge made to Tioga Detectives

    Friday, August 15 2014 5:38 PM EDT2014-08-15 21:38:12 GMT
    TIOGA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - In November of 2003, the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office lost one of its most devoted and hard working Detectives we have ever had. More >>
    TIOGA, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - In November of 2003, the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office lost one of its most devoted and hard working Detectives we have ever had. More >>
  • Mississippi man shot after reporting cross burning in his yard

    Mississippi man shot after reporting cross burning in his yard

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 11:30 AM EDT2014-08-20 15:30:00 GMT
    JACKSON, Miss. (CBS News) -- A Mississippi sheriff says a man was beaten and shot two weeks after calling authorities to report a cross burning in his yard, and investigators are trying to determine whether the attack was prompted by people being upset that the man was visited by his mixed-race grandchildren.More >>
    JACKSON, Miss. (CBS News) -- A Mississippi sheriff says a man was beaten and shot two weeks after calling authorities to report a cross burning in his yard, and investigators are trying to determine whether the attack was prompted by people being upset that the man was visited by his mixed-race grandchildren.More >>
  • Tropical disturbance moving to the Caribbean Sea

    Tropical disturbance moving to the Caribbean Sea

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 2:15 PM EDT2014-08-20 18:15:54 GMT
    Wednesday, August 2011:30 AMMost of the Atlantic Basin is quiet, but there are two tropical disturbances being monitored. The first disturbance isroughly 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. An area of low pressure remains disorganized as it slowly moves westward at 10 to 15 mph. It will continue toward the Caribbean Sea, and will then reach conditions that are favorable for tropical development. Low wind shear, and warm Caribbean waters could strengthen the cluster of thunderstorms into ...More >>
    Wednesday, August 2011:30 AMMost of the Atlantic Basin is quiet, but there are two tropical disturbances being monitored. The first disturbance isroughly 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. An area of low pressure remains disorganized as it slowly moves westward at 10 to 15 mph. It will continue toward the Caribbean Sea, and will then reach conditions that are favorable for tropical development. Low wind shear, and warm Caribbean waters could strengthen the cluster of thunderstorms into ...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KALB. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.