Among the recently discovered exoplanets, scientists have identified alien worlds as small as Earth, and as massive as Jupiter. Some of the exoplanets are extremely hot; others could be ideal to support life as we know it.
These exoplanets are quite diverse and expected to play a large role in developing the research field of exoplanets and life in the Universe, note experts.
Searching the universe for exoplanets
Exoplanets are worlds that orbit distant alien stars. In recent years, we have found that thousands of such planets exist through the galaxy. The Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009 helped us understand the sheer amount of alien worlds that are out there.
The Kepler Space Telescope, which has been recently retired by NASA, searched the universe for planets by looking for objects that cross in front of a distant star.
If the observed brightness of the star drops by a small amount, scientists can assume that something past in front of the star. Such dimming may not always be caused by a planet, which is why astronomers back on Earth need to analyze the data gathered by the space telescope to rule out other objects.
This method was used by the Kepler Space Telescope to find thousands of distant alien worlds.
Now, an international team of scientists, including experts at the University of Tokyo and Astrobiology Center of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences investigated 227 K2 exoplanet candidates.
K2 stands for the Kepler mission; a successor mission launched after the space telescope experienced mechanical problems in 2013.
Astronomers went on to analyze the information gathered by Kepler using space telescopes and ground-based telescopes in order to confirm the data.
They found that 104 of them are actual exoplanets.
Seven of the recently found exoplanets were discovered with ultra-short orbital periods less than 24 hours.
This is kind of a mystery, as astronomers say that the formation process of exoplanets with such short orbital periods is still unclear.
The recent study also confirmed the existence of a number of low-mass rocky exoplanets, which have masses less than twice that of the Earth.
Astronomers also discovered planetary systems that are home to multiple exoplanets.
The findings have been published in the Astronomical Journal.
One of the researchers who participated in the study, John Livingston a Ph.D. student at the University of Tokyo, explained that future observational missions will help us discover more planets.
“Although the Kepler Space Telescope has been officially retired by NASA, its successor space telescope, called TESS, has already started collecting data. In just the first month of operations, TESS has already found many new exoplanets, and it will continue to discover many more. We can look forward to many new exciting discoveries in the coming years.”