Kepler data analysis increases exoplanet candidate count by 833

Continued examination of the Kepler Observatory data has increased the number of candidate planets by 833 to over 3500. Though the observatory is no longer able to maintain pointing precision to the level sufficient to do the transit observations, there is a big storehouse of data yet to be analyzed and results will continue to arrive for a long time. Also, probably most “candidates” will eventually be confirmed as actual planets and not data artifacts.

Analysis of the planet data indicates that most every star in the Milky Way will probably have at least one planet orbiting it. And about a fifth of sun-like stars will have a planet similar to earth (1 to 2 times the mass of earth) orbiting within its so-called habitable zone, e.g. where the temperatures are sufficiently mild to allow liquid water to form if the atmosphere is dense enough.

Reports on the new findings:


Chart showing sizes of planet candidates as of November 2013.
Graph of the number of planet candidates in different mass categories
and the increase in each category from the latest Kepler data.
Image Credit: NASA
kepler-candidates-lined-up-4_0_2An illustration of the relative sizes of the exoplanets
candidates found by Kepler.