NASA has confirmed the discovery of 1,284 new alien planets and according to calculations, scientists believe there could be TENS OF BILLIONS of habitable planets in our Milky Way alone.
Scientists have also revealed that Earth’s ‘twin’ planet may be located just 11 light-years away from our Sun. In the new list of planets, around 550 could be rocky planets like Earth.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced the discovery of 1,284 new planets outside our solar system, taking the total number of planets discovered by the Kepler mission to a total of 2,325 confirmed extrasolar planets. This discovery means we have doubled the number of exoplanets whose existence has been validated by astrophysicists. Scientists say that nine of those planets are considered as potentially habitable.
‘This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth,’ said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at Nasa.
The discovery itself is a huge deal not only because it doubles the number of confirmed alien planets in the universe, but because it is the largest number of exoplanets discovered at one time.
The discovery way made thanks to a new technique that allows researchers to assess the likelihood that blips in the data really are planets and not the result of other natural objects. Kepler measures the brightness of a star like an electrocardiogram: when a planet passes in front of it, measurements onboard the spacecraft produce a small pulse that astrophysicists analyze in order to verify the existence and size and orbit of the celestial body.
According to Dr. Natalie Batalha, calculations indicate that our galaxy the Milky Way could host tens of billions of habitable planets alone.
‘If you ask yourself where is the next habitable planet likely to be, it’s within about 11 light-years, which is very close,’ she told the BBC.
The results were obtained after the Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 planet candidate catalog was analyzed, eventually leading to the discovery of the 1,284 planets. The newly discovered celestial objects were given the status of a planet since the probability of them being a planet is greater than 99 percent, which is considered as the minimum requirement. According to astrophysicists, an additional 1,327 candidates are more likely than not to be actual planets, but they do not meet the 99 percent threshold.
‘Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy,’ said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at Nasa Headquarters
‘Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars.’
Timothy Morton, associate research scholar at Princeton University in New Jersey and lead author of the study published in The Astrophysical Journal used a new technique to find planets without any follow-up required.
“Imagine planet candidates as bread crumbs,” Timothy Morton, who developed the new technique, said in a live press briefing. “If we drop a few on the ground we can pick them up one by one. But if you spill a whole bucket full of small crumbs, you’re going to need a broom to clean them up.”
Morton’s theory works by analyzing and calculating two things: how much the shape of a candidate planet’s transit signal looks like a planet, statistically speaking; and secondly, how common false positives ‘imposter candidates’ are out there. When scientists put this information together, they obtain a reliability score between zero and one for each candidate planet. Candidates with reliability greater than 99 percent are called ‘validated planets.’
Interestingly, Morton’s prediction matched up almost perfectly with what telescopes had seen.
“For every planet that the ground-based surveys measure to be a planet, I predict it should be a planet,” Morton said, “and everything they measure to be a false positive, I predict to be a false positive.”