TORONTO – The Nasa Kepler Space Telescope team announced on Monday the discovery of 219 new potential exoplanets, ten of which are close to Earth’s, where water could hypothetically exist in a liquid state and allow life .
In total, 4,034 exoplanets have been detected by Kepler, 2,335 of which have been confirmed by other telescopes.
About 50 of these planets, located outside our solar system, are about the size of the Earth and located in their star’s habitable area, including the last ten revealed on Monday.
Of the 50 planets potentially sister to Earth, more than 30 have been confirmed.
“This painstaking catalog is the scientific foundation that will directly address one of the most burning questions in astronomy of determining the number of sister planets of the Earth in the galaxy,” the Milky Way, “said Susan Thompson, Scientists from the Kepler team and the SETI Institute dedicated to the search for an alien intelligence.
“And with these data we will be able to determine the frequency of these planets and if it is possible to find other places in the galaxy where it would be possible to live,” she added, at a point of Press conference on the sidelines of the “K2 Science” conference held this week at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.
These latest discoveries were announced to the press on the sidelines of the Fourth Kepler and K2 science conference held this week at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.
It is the final and most complete and detailed version of the catalog of exoplanets found from the data collected during four years of observations of this telescope.
Kepler was launched in 2009 but its initial mission was completed in 2013 due to a breakdown of its gyroscopes. The telescope scanned 150,000 stars in the constellation of the Swan.
Help design future missions to find another Earth
With these latest Kepler discoveries, Nasa publishes the most complete and detailed version of the catalog of exoplanets found from data collected during four years of observations of this telescope.
Kepler was launched in 2009 but its initial mission was completed in 2013 due to a breakdown of its gyroscopes. The telescope scanned 150,000 stars in the Swan constellation and was by far the most fruitful. It detects planets as they pass in front of their star whose light they momentarily dim. This allows, among other things, to deduce their size, mass and orbit.
One of the research groups was able, thanks to the data provided by Kepler, to make precise measurements of thousands of planets. These astronomers discovered that there were two distinct groups of small planets, one rocky of land size and the other gaseous; Of a size less than Neptune. They found very few planets between these two categories.
Kepler’s final catalog will serve as a foundation for further research to determine the frequency of different categories of planets in the galaxy. “Understanding their frequency in the Milky Way will help design future NASA missions to find another Earth,” said Mario Perez, Astrophysics Division of the Space Agency, Scientific Leader of the Kepler Mission.
The James Webb Space Telescope, which is to succeed Hubble and is due to launch in 2018, may be able to detect molecular signatures of exoplanet atmospheres including the signature of the presence of life.