New Planets Discovered During K2 Mission

Exoplanets

The upcoming launches of missions like NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite should further our understanding. "The follow up K2 mission, on the other hand, has provided us with a great deal of interesting individual planets and systems that we can now start to study in greater detail". According to the statement made by Andrew Mayo of the University of Denmark, K2 found a star named "HD21267" and a planet orbiting it completing an orbit in 10 days.

Just like the planets in the solar system range in size from the tiny Mercury (18 of it could fit inside Earth) to the very big Jupiter (about 1,300 Earths could fit inside it), exoplanets come in a variety of sizes and masses too - some smaller than the moon and others a few times larger than Jupiter.

An global team led by Andrew Mayo from the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark took a closer look at 275 exoplanet candidates, validating 149 of them. It will monitor the brightness of more than 200,000 stars during its two-year mission in the hopes of finding rocky exoplanets at just the right distance from its stars. This latest K2 data investigation is the culmination of four years of meticulous researching, requiring the additional help of astronomers from NASA, Caltech, UC Berkeley, the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Tokyo.

An global team of researchers made the discovery while analyzing 275 potential exoplanet candidates that showed up in the Kepler data during the spacecraft's second mission, called K2.

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Exoplanets are those planets which revolve and orbit around their host star outside the solar system.

The findings are part of Kepler's extended K2 mission, also known by the B-movie-reminiscent title, "Second Light". Fortunately, astronomers and engineers managed to save it by reconfiguring the observatory so that it changed its field of view periodically. "So by increasing the number of planets discovered with K2 by nearly 50 per cent, this work will help astronomers dive much deeper into analysing and learning about individual planets, particularly smaller exoplanets". Reports suggest that so far both Kepler and K2 missions have discovered over 5,100 exoplanet candidates, which now the scientists are analysing. These 100 new planets add to the almost 3600 exoplanets that have been discovered since the first planet orbiting a star similar to our own was discovered back in 1995. K2 mission captures target and analyzes the dip in light registered which could happen because of the shadow cast by planets on their starts.

Simply defined, an exoplanet is a planet that orbits another star, but they are not easy to validate.

Mr Mayo said: "Exoplanets are a very exciting field of space science". Around 3,600 exoplanets that range from rocky Earth-sized planets to huge gas giants like Jupiter have been found by various missions. "As more planets are discovered, astronomers will develop a much better picture of the nature of exoplanets which in turn will allow us to place our own solar system into a galactic context", he said. "While Kepler gave us a broad overview of exoplanets, K2 is helping us dive much deeper", he added.

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