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View Full Version : A Wealth of Worlds: Kepler Spacecraft Finds 6 New Exoplanets and Hints at 1,200 More


80smith
02-03-2011, 06:24 PM
A newfound planetary system has six worlds, five of which rank among the smallest known, and the list of unconfirmed candidates has swelled to four figures

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kepler-11-thousands-extrasolar-planets

Just over halfway into that 3.5-year campaign, Kepler has not been on the job long enough to conclusively identify any habitable worlds, but its discoveries are growing ever more tantalizing. In a field where small is good—small meaning less like Jupiter and more like Earth—the latest batch of planets netted by the space observatory includes five of the eight smallest worlds now known outside the solar system. All five of the new extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, as well as one more world whose properties are not yet fully understood, orbit a sunlike star called Kepler 11, some 2,000 light-years away. A group of researchers announced the discovery of the six-planet Kepler 11 system in the February 3 issue of Nature. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)