WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) — The Kepler space telescope has discovered five exoplanets, said U.S. scientists searching for an Earth-sized planet with an Earth-like atmosphere.
An exoplanet is a planet that orbits a star other than our sun and, therefore, is beyond the solar system containing Earth. About 420 exoplanets have been discovered since the first was detected in 1995.
The Kepler telescope, launched last March, is examining more than 100,000 stars in the constellation Cygnus. The first 43 days of Kepler’s findings were announced Monday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington. Another eight months of findings has yet to be analyzed, The Washington Post reported Monday.
One of the five exoplanets discovered is so fluffy it has the density of Styrofoam, NASA astronomer William Borucki said, noting about 100 other possible planets are being studied following Kepler’s initial detection.
“If there are Earth-like planets in habitable zones, we will find them,” said Mario Livio, a researcher with Baltimore’s Space Telescope Science Institute. “This is going to be really a treasure of data that they will produce.”
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