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25 June 2017, 05:45 | Justin Tyler
It is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.
This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalogue, gathered by reprocessing the entire set of data from Kepler's observations during the first four years of its primary mission. Of the 4,034 "candidates", over half have already been identified as "exoplanets" - planets orbiting around a star outside the solar system - since the Kepler telescope was launched in 2009.
NASA's Kepler space telescope can find a needle in a haystack, if a needle was a planet and a haystack was the seemingly endless expanse of space.
The data accessed from Kepler has aided the scientists to conclude the existence of two distinct sizes of small planets, which have lasting implications on the search for life outside the solar system. The catalog of the Kepler mission will serve as a basis for the study of the prevalence and demography of these planets in our galaxy.
The planets are only "candidates" at the moment, which means astronomers will need to do more checks to confirm their findings.
A few days later NASA reported that its Kepler (planet seeking) spacecraft found 1,284 new planets, with up to 550 showing the potential for being in what the space agency calls the "habitable zone".
"Many of the new planet candidates are likely to have small rocky cores enveloped by a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, and some are thought to be ocean worlds", NASA shared in its Tumblr blog.
The findings were presented at a news conference Monday at Nasa's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.
"Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth". The NASA said that we are not probably alone in this universe and there are huge chances that parallel life exists in this universe. These exoplanets were being found by detecting a transit or the minuscule drop in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses the path in front of it. From its total discoveries, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. According to the Business Insider, Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist at the SETI Institute said: "We have taken our telescope and we have counted up how many planets are similar to the Earth in this part of the sky".
Kepler is not the only way astronomers have found exoplanets, and even potentially habitable ones.
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