NASA Confirms 100 New Alien Planets

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#NASA #PlanetsNASA Confirms 100 New Alien Planets : After being crippled by a mechanical malfunction, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft is back in action and has found a slew of planets orbiting other stars.

Called K2, the revamped mission has already found more than 100 confirmed planets, the University of Arizona’s Ian Crossfield announced Tuesday at a conference of the American Astronomical Society.

Some of these are very different from what the spacecraft observed during its original mission; many are in multi-planet systems and orbit stars that are brighter and hotter than the stars in the original Kepler field.

It has found a system with three planets that are bigger than Earth, spotted a planet in the Hyades star cluster-the nearest open star cluster to Earth-and discovered a planet being ripped apart as it orbits a white dwarf star.

Scientists have also found 234 possible planets that are awaiting confirmation, said Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“It’s probing different types of planets [than the original Kepler mission],” says Tom Barclay of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “We’re focusing on stars that are much brighter, stars that are nearer by, stars that are more easy to understand and observe from the Earth. The idea here is to find the best systems, the most interesting systems.”

Among the planets discovered by a revived Kepler spacecraft is one in the Hyades star cluster, the nearest of its kind to Earth. (Photograph by NASA, ESA, and STScI)