What makes this discovery by NASA truly exciting is that some of these exoplanets found outside the solar system are just like Earth.
NASA: The American space agency has recently discovered 65 new planets taking its total discovered exoplanets to an impressive 5,000, creating a new cosmic milestone. What makes this discovery truly incredible is that NASA claims that some of these exoplanets are just like our planet Earth. This discovery has given wings to the imagination of an Interstellar movie-like world where various Earth-like planets exist with their own individual quirks. There are other questions that come up as well. With other planets outside our solar system showing resemblance to our own home planet, could any of these exoplanets have signs of life in them as well? Is this a step closer to finding aliens? Or, can humans find another safe planet to inhabit after Earth? Questions are many and we do not have all the answers, but some are quite thrilled. Speaking on the discovery, Jessie Christiansen, science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in Pasadena said, “Each one of them is a new world, a brand-new planet. I get excited about every one because we don’t know anything about them”.
NASA does help us understand what it could mean. “Not so long ago, we lived in a universe with only a small number of known planets, all of them orbiting our Sun. But a new raft of discoveries marks a scientific high point: More than 5,000 planets are now confirmed to exist beyond our solar system,” said NASA. These discoveries open up a larger perspective and an opportunity for deeper observations into space and understanding what the universe beyond our solar system looks like. And NASA has found some very interesting worlds to explore.
“The 5,000-plus planets found so far include small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and “hot Jupiters” in scorchingly close orbits around their stars. There are “super-Earths,” which are possible rocky worlds bigger than our own, and “mini-Neptunes,” smaller versions of our system’s Neptune. Add to the mix planets orbiting two stars at once and planets stubbornly orbiting the collapsed remnants of dead stars,” NASA added.
What are exoplanets
An exoplanet is defined as any planet which is placed outside the solar system but follows the same pattern of rotation around its axis and revolution around a star. These exoplanets form their own ecosystem with other planets, asteroids and stars.
How does NASA find new planets
Finding new planets is not easy. It’s like finding a needle in the haystack. For decades, scientists have been observing the night sky to look for space bodies which behave like a planet. And often, it takes months of observation to be sure whether it is a planet, or an asteroid or just some gas clouds. The first planet was discovered in 1995. It was a gas giant about half the mass of Jupiter in a four-day orbit around its star, which means one year on that planet is 4 days long.
These planets outside the solar system were initially discovered by NASA using ground-based telescopes. But later, in a bid to expand the exoplanet hunting process, scientists used the Kepler Space Telescope. “Astronomer William Borucki came up with the idea of attaching extremely sensitive light detectors to a telescope, then launching it into space. The telescope would stare for years at a field of more than 170,000 stars, searching for tiny dips in starlight when a planet crossed a star’s face,” the NASA post added.
Do aliens exist
It’s hard to tell but with the finite knowledge of the universe we do possess, there have been no signs of life so far. However, these new exoplanets discovered by NASA do open up new possibilities. Although most of these planets are so far that they cannot be observed properly for signs of life or sustainability. But NASA has been able to confirm that some of these planets are just like Earth. What it means is that some of these planets are placed at a similar distance from their star and have similar rocky structure like Earth. If any of them have a similar atmosphere like Earth, it might not be a stretch to think that they too, can contain life, just like our home planet.