Posts Tagged ‘exoplanet’

Opinion: TESS finding few planets

December 30, 2019

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite began taking pictures of stars more than 15 months ago.  It is now 2/3rds finished looking at the local sky.  (17 of 26 sectors observed).  Although it has identified over 1500 objects of interest, so far there have only been 37 confirmed planets discovered.

KEPLER on the other hand, discovered over 2,600 exoplanets.

My conclusion?  KEPLER is KING and we should build and launch a few more of them.

Since the DRAKE equation has been solved years ago,

N = 2,630,000

we still need to identify 55,000 more exoplanets in order to reach the statistical odds of finding a world with advanced intelligent life.

(2.63 million highly developed civilizations (1 in 59,316 star systems like ours host evolved human life)

The CHEOPS satellite, built by Swiss nerds, will try to calculate the densities of known exoplanets.  A secondary mission will be to try and spot potential clouds or atmospheres of local exoplanets, but it does not have a spectrometer on board.  What it will find remains to be seen.


4000 exoplanets identified

July 17, 2019

And more to come!


Kepler K2 finds 28 more exoplanets

March 11, 2019
Dear Exoplanet Explorers,
We’re very excited to let you know that we just published a new list of 28 new planet candidates identified thanks to your collective efforts!
These planets are a varied bunch, with sizes ranging from two thirds that of Earth to  those which are more than twice the size of Neptune. All are quite some distance from their stars, so  are most likely not habitable – but don’t despair, as they will help us understand planet formation. You can read more here:
These new exoplanet candidates range in size from ~2/3 the radius of Earth to nearly twice the radius of Neptune. As seen in the figure above, most of these planets are similar in orbital period and planet radius to the bulk population of K2 confirmed and candidate planets. However, this list provides 9 potentially rocky planets with radii less than twice that of Earth which is where we think planets transition from being primarily rocky like Earth and have a thick gaseous atmosphere like Neptune. The radius cut off for rocky planets remains somewhat unclear as the composition of the planet is the important feature to consider here.
Unfortunately, transiting planets only provide us with the planets radius. Nevertheless, optimistic estimates suggest that planets smaller than twice the radius of Earth may be rocky. For further reading on this topic check out the associated paper! As the search continues for habitable planets, these rocky planets are of unique interest as they potentially mimic the environment we experience here on Earth. The planets in our list are outside the habitable zone, but there are some candidates that are close. We need better stellar properties, which might indeed show that some planets could be in the habitable zone.
ee 28 combin
If you’re missing the search for new planets while Exoplanet Explorers is taking a break, please help our friends over at Planet Hunters with their search through data from TESS, NASA’s newest planet-seeking mission. You can get involved at
Thanks for all your help!
Chris & the Exoplanet Explorers team

TESS ting TESS ting 1 2 3

November 27, 2018

First data results from Sectors 1 and 2 expected to be released in December. Sectors 3 and 4 data expected to be released in January 2019.

More Eyes in the Skies

October 15, 2018

Sizes of telescope mirrors around the world.

telescope mirror sizes

Number of exoplanets discovered by year.

exo_planets by year

Water Worlds are Everywhere

August 18, 2018

Scientists have shown that water is likely to be a major component of those exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) which are between two to four times the size of Earth. It will have implications for the search of life in our Galaxy. The work is presented at the Goldschmidt Conference in Boston.

Now a new evaluation of data from the exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope and the Gaia mission indicates that many of the known planets may contain as much as 50% water. This is much more than the Earth’s 0.02% (by weight) water content.

“It was a huge surprise to realize that there must be so many water-worlds”, said lead researcher Dr. Li Zeng (Harvard University),

Scientists have found that many of the 4000 confirmed or candidate exoplanets discovered so far fall into two size categories: those with the planetary radius averaging around 1.5 that of the Earth, and those averaging around 2.5 times the radius of the Earth.
Read more at:

Exoplanets in the news

June 29, 2018

There are currently about fifty known exoplanets whose diameters range from Mars-sized to several times the Earth’s and which also reside within their stars’ habitable zone – the orbital distance within which their surface temperatures permit liquid water. These exoplanets are currently our best candidates for hosting life.

Read more at:

A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology provides new clues indicating that an exoplanet 500 light-years away is much like Earth.

Kepler-186f is the first identified Earth-sized planet outside the solar system orbiting a star in the . This means it’s the proper distance from its for liquid water to pool on the surface.

The Georgia Tech study used simulations to analyze and identify the exoplanet’s spin axis dynamics. Those dynamics determine how much a planet tilts on its axis and how that tilt angle evolves over time. Axial tilt contributes to seasons and climate because it affects how sunlight strikes the planet’s surface.

The researchers suggest that Kepler-186f’s is very stable, much like the Earth, making it likely that it has regular seasons and a stable climate. The Georgia Tech team thinks the same is true for Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-sized planet orbiting around a star about 1,200 light-years away from us.

Read more at:

Kepler Completes Campaign 17

May 15, 2018


  • Campaign 17 completed successfully
  • Campaign 18 underway
  • Apophis asteroid in view
  • Campaign 16 data processing complete


Planets possibly discovered outside of our Galaxy

February 4, 2018

Until this study, there has been no evidence of planets in other galaxies.  This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy.


A University of Oklahoma astrophysics team has discovered for the first time a population of planets beyond the Milky Way galaxy. Using microlensing—an astronomical phenomenon and the only known method capable of discovering planets at truly great distances from the Earth among other detection techniques—OU researchers were able to detect objects in extragalactic galaxies that range from the mass of the Moon to the mass of Jupiter.  This galaxy is located 3.8 billion light years away.

Read more at:

Kepler Exo Planet Count

December 30, 2017

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