Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kepler Keeps On Giving

When I heard, several weeks ago, that the Kepler Telescope was crippled, and it was stationed so far from Earth that repairs were not possible in the foreseeable future, I really got depressed. That's it, I thought. No more exciting news about newly discovered, exotic planets outside our solar system.
Last week, I was really bowled over with the news that scientists had discovered another 715 planets, including systems with more than one planet in them. When I read further into the article, they were announcing 715 planets circling 306 suns. So, just doing some simple math, one can see that in that batch, the average is about 2.34 planets per star. Of course, no one ever claimed that 'nature' could do even the simplest of math, AND Kepler may not have been watching long enough to see evidence of planets further out from their stars.
My head was starting to whirl at this point, but I believe that brings the total of planets discovered outside our solar system to a little more than 1,700. Now, remember, Kepler only stared at one tiny, tiny area of our galaxy.

And, perhaps the best news this article gave me - the scientists had only analyzed 2 years of Kepler's 4 years of data. I am all atingle, waiting for more information on what Kepler saw in its all-too-brief, 4 years of life.

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