NASA's Kepler mission has been on a roll. After drawing the world's attention to a host of unknown, Earth-sized planets, it now has a giant of an announcement to make. In an official post on their website, NASA has confirmed that the Kepler mission has discovered 11 planetary systems, which are hosting 26 confirmed planets. This Kepler mission discovery is surely nothing like what it has been for NASA. Quite understandably, this one has outdone the previous ones. The number of confirmed planets have doubled now, and the number of stars that have been known to have multiple planets transiting, passing in front of its host star have also tripled.
Kepler's Planetary Systems' Orbits
Revealing more on the identities of the discovered planets, NASA revealed that the planets were found to be orbiting close to their host stars and their sizes range from being 1.5 times the radius of Earth to being larger than even Jupiter. Approximately 15 of these planets fall between Earth and Neptune, in terms of size. Researchers will need to study them a little better to gauge their traits – see which planets are rocky like Earth and have thick gaseous atmospheres like Neptune. The planets are known to orbit their host star once every six to 143 days. All the planets are closer than Venus is to our sun, to their host star.
Beaming with the success of the Kepler mission, so far, Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, stated, “Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky.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.“
5 of the 11 planetary systems discovered, namely Kepler-25, Kepler-27, Kepler-30, Kepler-31 and Kepler-33 contain a pair of planets in which the inner planet orbits the star twice during every orbit of the outer planet. While, 4 other systems, namely Kepler-23, Kepler-24, Kepler-28 and Kepler-32 contain a pair in which the outer planet circles the star twice for every three times the inner planet orbits its star.