27 Jan 2012

 NASA and the Kepler space telescope has found 11 new planetary systems.

This brings the Kepler discovered planet count to 60.  Overall, NASA has confirmed 729 extra-solar planets to date.  Kepler works by monitoring the changes in light emitted from a star to determine if a planet is causing the change.  Kepler is monitoring more than 150,000 stars in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.  There are 2,300 other planets candidates still to be confirmed with more being added all the time. 

One of these planetary systems is called Kepler-33.  It has a star which is bigger and older than our own sun, with five known planets.  All five planets orbit the star at a distance that is closer than that of Mars to the Sun.  The size of the planets range from 1.5 to five times the Earth's diameter.  It isn't known at this time if they are rocky planets or gas giants.

Source:  Telegraph
Image Source:  NASA

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