back to article Planet-hunting Kepler hits EXOPLANET JACKPOT

NASA's exoplanet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has identified a slew of new subjects, adding 26 planets in 11 systems to its inventory. "Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky," said Kepler program scientist Doug Hudgins in a statement announcing the discovery. "Now, in just two years …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proper measurements, in my Register?!

    "...a diameter of about 141,700 kilometers, or 88,000 miles"

    What's that in double decker buses?

    1. c4m1k4z3
      Trollface

      141,700,000 / 15 (max) = 9,446,667

      1. Measurer

        Big busses

        What, busses your way are 15km long!

        1. Chris Miller

          15 *metres* - perhaps they're bendy buses?

        2. HP Cynic

          What, buses your way have a 3rd "s"! :P

        3. edge_e
          FAIL

          @measurer

          you may want to look at that again, he converted Km to m first

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At 1/50th of the diameter of our full moon ...

    the Hubble Deep Field surveys show us 10,000 galaxies (http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2004/07/). Extrapolate that to the whole sky and ponder - if some of those ancient systems evolved into only a few stable galaxies like ours, then we can easily assume that our universe is teeming with 10^23+ planetary systems that would be supporting some form of life.

    And to think, there are still so many humans on our planet that think we are alone and unique here on Earth. I can get my head around the breadth and depth of our universe but can't figure out why so many on this planet aren't willing to give up their dogmas and get on with their one and only life.

    1. Yag
      Joke

      Dibs...

      ... on the tropical planet with those busty green amazons.

      ...

      What do you mean by "praying mantis mating behavior"?

      1. perlcat
        Pint

        Where's the

        Snu-snu?

        I WANT MY SNU-SNU!!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Bigger than Jupiter

    I assume that you mean more massive than Jupiter. Jupiter is just about as big as a gas giant can get; more massive planets would actually be smaller due to the effects of gravitational contraction.

    1. Paul F
      Stop

      I'm afraid that you are incorrect. Planets over 25 times Jupiter's mass have been found. I believe that there is even one that is 37 times Jupiter's mass, at DH Tau B.

  4. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Sir

    What's the word I'm looking for? It describes simultaneously the excitement of all that 'stuff' out there to be investigated and understood and the lack of ability to go out there and do just that (and likely not forthcoming in this lifetime).

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Trollface

    More utter amazement

    Just 6 days!

    6.

    Wow...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not a planet id want to be standing on with a hangover!

  6. Daniel Evans

    "Hudgins didn't elaborate on exactly what he meant by that well-examined patch of sky being a bit larger than your fist, but we can only assume that he's referring to a fist being held at arm's length – and if that's the case, the sky being "positively loaded" with exoplanets may even be a bit of an understatement."

    Your fist at arm's length is about 10 degrees wide. Let's say for argument's sake it's 10 degrees high, as well - so your fist covers 100 square degrees (so it is pretty damn close to Kepler's FOV, actually). There are 41,253 square degrees of sky - so Kepler studies approximately 1/410 of the sky.

    In that region, it studies 145,000 stars. Let's say 2300 planets is about 2000 stars, accounting for a few multi-planet systems - so of those 145,000 stars, 1 in 73 have had a potential planet come between us and the star 3 times in 3 years (I believe it's 3 transits to be a candidate, anyway - that might be "confirmed", though). Just think of all the planets whose orbits do not come between us and their star (anything more than a few degrees either way); that are far enough out to orbit less than once every year (every planet outside Earth in our solar system); and are too small for Kepler to see (<Earth-ish size).

    "Understatement" may be an understatement.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pirate

    I am really amazed that these planetary systems are stable, I suppose interstellar space will be full of roundish crap ejected from solar systems Auf Nimmerwiedersehn!

    Perfect for a hidden interstellar pirate base! Yarrhhh!

  8. Chris Haughton-Brown

    Space junk

    If Kepler is trailing Earth by 7 days per year, won't we lap it in 52 years time?

  9. Phil Atkin

    That picture is rubbish

    Have they never heard of antialiasing?

  10. Cihatari

    Very nice, but...

    When is David Braben going to issue an accurate solar systems fixpack for Elite?

  11. Paul F
    Stop

    there's a bit more...

    There are currently 755 confirmed planets that have been observed by one method or another, and an additional 1235 candidates from Kepler alone. And those are just the boring candidates that NASA has decided to release. There are as yet more candidates that NASA is holding on to pending additional verification, that are likely to be far more interesting than Jupiter and "Super Jupiter" class planets. I suspect that's where the 2300 figure comes from.

    The gentleman above who said that Jupiter is the largest a planet can get is wrong, I'm afraid. they can get much bigger and still not be "failed stars" or whatever the common myth about Jupiter is. There are planets that are 25 times Jupiter's size out there that we've observed.

    Further, there are far more multi-planet systems out there than the article indicates. I think the author was talking about just Kepler.

    I suggest visiting http://exoplanet.hanno-rein.de/ for a nice visual database of all confirmed planets out there. :)

    1. Daniel Evans

      "Size" isn't everything

      Are you talking mass or radius here? In terms of mass, above 13 M(Jupiter) you have a brown dwarf. Radius also doesn't increase with mass, much, at that size - you just squash the gas down more (Saturn is half the mass of Jupiter, but only 1/7th smaller in radius). Brown dwarfs at the lower end aren't significantly higher in radius than Jupiter.

      If you had a planet 25 times the mass of Jupiter, it's definately a Brown Dwarf. If you have one 25 times the radius, you're larger than the sun.

      1. Paul F

        We can only measure mass accurately - that's how we find most of them

        Nope, we are talking mass.

        DH Tau b is a planet, and is 37 times Jupiter's mass. See the link below

        http://exoplanet.hanno-rein.de/system.php?id=DH+Tau+b

        The entire list is at the link below and can be sorted by mass, which you'll note is measured in how many times of Jupiter's mass. Jupiter is the standard unit of measurement for exoplanets, since the vast majority that we have found are in Jupiter's range or greater. It's easier to detect them when they are that big, and they are definitely not brown dwarf stars, which start at 75 times Jupiter's mass.

        http://exoplanet.hanno-rein.de/complete.php

  12. K. Adams
    Thumb Up

    "... boffinary punnery."

    Awesome turn-of-phrase. :-)

  13. Coltek
    Big Brother

    Don't tell the Government or the banks....

    Just imagine all those people on all those planets that the Government could tax, and the banks could rip off......

    .....It's a wonder they can sleep at night!

  14. HeyMickey
    Facepalm

    JPEG for a drawing? Really?

    ^ See title

    That is all.

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