WASHINGTON: Using a combination of space-based and ground-based telescopes, scientists have revealed more than 100 new exoplanets. The discovery may prove useful for the search for life elsewhere in the universe.
The combination of imaging techniques that were used to reveal the exoplanets were novel. Scientists, at the Japanese National Institutes of Natural Sciences, utilized a mix of ground and space based telescopes for the task, and this revealed over 100 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) from just three months of running the new technology.
An exoplanet is a planet outside our Solar System and one that may be habitable. The habitable zone is the range of distances from a star where a planet’s temperature allows liquid water oceans, critical for life on Earth. Around 1 in 5 Sun-like stars have an “Earth-sized” planet in the habitable zone, and the exoplanet closest to Earth is around 12 light-years. As of 1 December 2018, there are 3,903 confirmed planets in 2,909 systems, with 647 systems having more than one planet.
The new discoveries drew on data from international research teams, including the University of Tokyo and Astrobiology Center. The researchers examined some 227 exoplanet candidates using space telescopes and ground-based telescopes. This combination approach enabled the researchers to confirm that 104 of the objects were exoplanets.
In comparison to Earth, seven of the confirmed exoplanets have ultra-short orbital periods close to 24 hours. It is hoped that further examination of the ultra-short period planets advance understanding into the processes behind their formation. Of importance is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which a space telescope for NASA’s Explorers program, designed to search for exoplanets using the transit method in an area 400 times larger than that covered by the previous Kepler mission.
According to one of the researchers, John Livingston: “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.”
The findings have been reported to The Astronomical Journal. The research paper is titled “Sixty Validated Planets from K2 Campaigns 5–8.”