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NASA confirms there are more than 5,000 worlds outside our solar system

By: April Carson

NASA has confirmed that there are more than 5,000 worlds outside our solar system. This number was determined by the Kepler Space Telescope, which spent years staring at stars in search of planets crossing their faces. The variety of planetary systems and stars discovered by Kepler is truly astounding, opening up a new window on the universe.

We used to live in a universe with just a few known planets, all of which orbited our sun. However, there is a new generation of discoveries that marks an important scientific high point: more than 5,000 planets beyond our solar system were verified by scientists on March 21, 2022.

On March 21, the planetary odometer was switched on by NASA, with the addition of 65 more exoplanets to its Exoplanet Archive. The archive keeps track of exoplanets that have been verified through a variety of detection approaches or via analytical methods in peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and hot Jupiters in scorching close orbits around their stars are among the 5,000+ planets already discovered.

There are super-Earths that may be rocky worlds larger than our own, as well as superior Neptunes and mini-Neptunes. In addition to planets orbiting two stars at the same time, there are those who orbit the broken remains of dead stars steadfastly.

More than 5,000 extrasolar planets have now been confirmed by astronomers. That's just a sliver of the many billions throughout the galaxy. The exoplanet discovery cones radiate out from Earth like the spokes on a wheel. Many more discoveries are on the way. NASA/JPL-Caltech produced this video using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and JPL's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

Jessie Christiansen, science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in Pasadena, said:

It’s not just a number. 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.

Our galaxy, on the other hand, may contain hundreds of billions of such planets. The discovery of strange new worlds orbiting an even stranger star began in 1992 with the odd new worlds circling a rapidly spinning stellar corpse known as a pulsar. It was a type of neutron star known as a pulsar, which pulses with millisecond bursts of searing radiation. Scientists were able to detect minute variations in the timing of the pulses by measuring them carefully.

Finding just three planets about this rotating star "basically opened the floodgates," according to Alexander Wolszczan, the lead author of the research that 30 years ago revealed the first planets outside our solar system. Wolszczan added:

If you can find planets orbiting a neutron star, they must be all over the place. The planet-making process has to be quite durable.

Wolszczan, who is now a professor of astronomy at Penn State and continues to look for exoplanets as part of his job, believes we are entering an era of discovery that will extend beyond simply adding new planets to the tally. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which was launched in 2018, is still finding new exoplanets. These instruments can also identify tell-tale signs of habitable conditions from the atmospheres of exoplanets, thanks to next-generation telescopes and their highly sensitive gear, starting with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope.

Telescopic searches

The Nancy Roman Space Telescope, which is anticipated to launch in 2027, will use a variety of methods to make new exoplanet discoveries. The ESA's (European Space Agency) ARIEL mission, launching in 2029, will monitor exoplanet atmospheres; a NASA-developed piece of gear called CASE will assist scientists identify exoplanet clouds and hazy areas.

Wolszczan said:

With that in mind, I believe it is unavoidable that we will discover some kind of life somewhere: most likely on a lower level.

Detection of life itself is only a question of time, according to Dr. Ramachandran, owing to the close link between life on Earth and across the cosmos as well as the discovery of significant organic molecules that imply biochemistry is universal.

How to discover other realms

The image didn't always appear so sunny. The first planet detected around a sun-like star, in 1995, was a hot Jupiter: a gas giant about half the mass of our own Jupiter and orbiting its star at just four days' distance. In other words, a year on this world is only four days long.

Now that scientists have learned how to recognize them, additional planets like this one have been found in ground-based telescope data: the first dozens, then hundreds. They were discovered using the "wobble" technique: monitoring minute back-and-forth movements of a star induced by gravitational tug of other planets. Nothing looked promising for habitability yet.

The “transit” approach, which required a small leap in exoplanet-finding technology, was essential for locating small, rocky worlds that more resembled our own. The concept of suspending extremely sensitive light detectors from a telescope and launching it into space was first suggested by astronomer William Borucki. For years, the telescope would observe for tiny dips in starlight when a planet passed between its twin suns.

The Kepler Space Telescope paved the way for a more accurate view of exoplanets.

The Kepler telescope uses a technique called the “transit method” to detect exoplanets. This involves looking for the telltale dip in a star’s brightness that occurs when a planet passes in front of it. NASA’s TESS mission, which launched in April 2018, uses the transit method to survey the sky for new exoplanets.

Kepler's launch in 2009 opened a new perspective on the universe, according to its creator, Borucki. He stated:

I'm speechless when I look up at the sky. Each time I look into it, I get the same feeling of astonishment and admiration for what lies before me. We didn't anticipate this huge variety of planetary systems and stars. It's amazing, to say the least.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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