According to NASA’s final analysis of its four-year search of the galaxy, there are 219 new potential exoplanets. any planets beyond our solar system—in existence that hadn’t been documented until now. With this new discovery, the total number of exoplanets within our galaxy is 4,034.
Ten of these 219 new planets are roughly near the size of Earth, and they sit in the habitable zone of their stars, which means that it could be feasible for liquid water to pool on the planets’ surfaces. By these standards, this, then, brings the total number of potentially-habitable planets to 50, 30 of which have been verified as being legitimately Earth-like— which only encompasses the small corner of the galaxy that the Kepler was pointed at.
This report could help scientists assess how common Earth-like planets are within the galaxy, as well as how these planets compare to ours in terms of chemical composition. Other results from the Kepler indicate that there might be two different size groupings of small planets: one less than 1.5 times the size of Earth, and one twice as big. Of these planets, the ones which proved to be more Earth-like were the larger planets, while the others had, for the most part, no surface, crushing atmospheres and hosted all-around uninhabitable conditions.
The focus for many of the scientists scanning data from the Kepler was mainly centered on finding planets that orbited around G-type stars like the sun. This, in addition to the size indicators showing that larger planets are more likely to host human life, give scientists more specific and potentially fruitful parameters for future search expeditions across the galaxy.
Top photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC0
Natalie Wickstrom is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia. She probably wrote this piece to the tune of a movie score whilst chewing gum.