Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Exoplanet Numbers Increase Dramatically!

If you haven't heard, NASA has released the verification of 1,284 new exoplanets, adding to the previous total of 1,980 to now give us 3,264 official planets outside of our own Solar System.  Obviously there are many, many more exoplanets in our Galaxy, likely billions, but these are the ones we have officially verified through observations.  Wow!  Over 3,000 exoplanets!!!  Amazing!  For more information on these new planets, you can read the article at the link below.

New Exoplanets

What's even more amazing is how quickly we are discovering these planets.  When I was born, 9 planets were known to exist and all 9 were part of the our own Solar System.  This number remained 9 until the discovery of the very first exoplanet in 1992.  In a short 24 years the numbers have exploded.  Initially the number of known exoplanets increased slowly.  The number of planets in our Solar System dropped to 8 in 2006 when Pluto was officially classified as a dwarf planet.  Then the Kepler telescope launched in 2009 and the number has dramatically increased!

What's even more exciting is several of the new confirmed planets are closer to Earth sized and reside in the habitable zone, a region in space from a star in which liquid water on a planet is possible.  It doesn't mean liquid water exists on the planet, but that it is possible.


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