The search for new planets lurking in space is not as difficult as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge,media BGR reported. High-tech instruments such as NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope provide researchers with a wealth of data for new discoveries. Michelle Kunimoto, a student at the University of British Columbia, did just that: she discovered 17 new planets.
Kunimoto, a ph.D. candidate, is the lead author of a new paper published in the Astronomical Journal, which details 17 new planets. We don’t know much about them, but at least one of them is about the size of Earth and is considered a rocky planet like our own.
Many of the 17 planets are “large” and are thought to be largely gasgiant planets. But it turns out that it’s more difficult for astronomers to discover smaller rocky worlds. The planet now labeled KIC-7340288 b is about 50% more than Earth and happens to be in its star’s so-called “habitable zone,” meaning its surface temperature may be strong enough to support liquid water.
“The planet is a thousand light-years away, so we won’t get there any time soon!” Kunimoto said in a statement. “But this is a very exciting discovery, as only 15 confirmed asteroids have been found in kepler data so far. “
The discovery was made using a technique popular among exoplanet hunters, in which people closely observe the star’s light to see changes in brightness. From Earth’s point of view, when the star’s brightness temporarily disappears, it indicates that an object passes in front of the star. These transit phenomena can tell astronomers about the alarming number of objects orbiting stars.