Astronomers Discover 100 New Planets

Jul 20, 2016

An artist's concept of select planetary discoveries made by NASA's Kepler space telescope.
Credit W. Stenzel - NASA

A team of astronomers has confirmed the existence of 100 planets outside of our solar system. The original discovery came via NASA’s K2 space telescope. From the Arizona Science Desk, Sara Hammond reports on this discovery made by the University of Arizona.

Scientists say at least four of the planets may have rocky features similar to Earth’s and are orbiting a star less than half the size of our sun.

 Ian Crossfield of the U of A’s Lunar and Planetary Lab says the findings will open the door for further study of the newly discovered bodies, all more than 100 light years away from Earth. “We might care about them because we might be interested in knowing how solar systems and planets like our own formed," he says. "So putting our own home here in the cosmos in better context in terms of understanding our place in the universe.” Crossfield led the international team that confirmed the planets’ existence using telescopes on Earth. Crossfield says astronomers hope to employ a new telescope in continuing their examination of this group of planets. The telescope is called the James Webb Space Telescope, and it is scheduled to launch in late 2018.