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NASA researchers say there are more than 5,000 worlds waiting to be explored!5 min read

March 22, 2022 4 min read

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NASA researchers say there are more than 5,000 worlds waiting to be explored!5 min read

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When you look up at the sky, what is the first question that comes to mind? Well, for most people, throughout history, that question has been — are we alone in this great universe?

Are there creatures just like us wondering the same thing? Is there intelligent life on another planet? Do aliens really look like the ones we see in movies? All these questions are valid! And, science and technology has given us the ability to not only travel through space, but also to study life on other planets.

Now, NASA has conducted a new study, and the results are quite fascinating. NASA has confirmed there are more than 5,000 worlds waiting to be explored in deep space.

Types of exoplanets. Photo: NASA

With the discovery of 65 new planets, NAS has confirmed the presence of over 5,000 such planetary bodies around stars beyond our solar system, marking a new milestone in space exploration. The NASA exoplanet – a planet outside of our solar system — archive got 65 new candidates to be studied that could harbour compositions that might support the presence of water, microbes, gases on the surface or even life.

“The archive records exoplanet discoveries that appear in peer-reviewed scientific papers, and that have been confirmed using multiple detection methods or by analytical techniques,” NAS said, adding that each one of them is a new world, a brand-new planet.

OVER 5,000 NEW WORLDS!

The 5,000 exoplanets discovered so far are very different when it comes to their unique composition and characteristics. These include small, rocky worlds like our 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.

Additionally, planets orbiting two stars at once, and planets orbiting the collapsed remnants of dead stars have also been discovered in the last three decades. “It’s not just a number. I get excited about everyone because we don’t know anything about them,” said Jessie Christiansen, science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in the US.

For many years, astronomers have said that the Milky Way Galaxy has hundreds of billions of such planets, and that’s just one galaxy. An image clicked recently by the James Webb Space Telescope shows thousands of galaxies in a single frame, each filled with the possibility for more such unique unexplored worlds.

How do scientists find these planets?

The discovery of planets is a long, difficult process that requires years of observations. It involves peering into endless data from ground-based and space-based telescopes. The first planet detected around a Sun-like star, in 1995, turned out to be a hot Jupiter: a gas giant about half the mass of our own Jupiter.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations

The Kepler space telescope is a retired space telescope launched by NASA in 2009 to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars.

William Borucki, who was an exoplanet hunter for NASA. Photo: NASA

Finding small, rocky worlds more like our own required the next big leap in exoplanet-hunting technology: the “transit” method. This method is one of the most commonly used methods to spot planets or planet-like candidates. 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.

If these dips are constant over a period of time it indicates something coming in the way of the star blocking the starlight and thus confirming the presence of a planetary object!

Alright, now let’s get to the BIG question — Are we alone?

The simple answer is that so far, yes, we are. Astronomers the world over believe that there is a big possibility that we might find something resembling life in deep space in the near future as the number of these planetary candidates grows in leaps and bounds. So far, we haven’t been able to study these planets in depth.

With the advent of science and new telescopes like the James Webb beginning observations, the chances are high that we might find something interesting out there.

What do you imagine life on another planet to look like? Do you think
there would beings similar to us? What are the benefits of studying life
on other planets?


Sources: Space.com, Science Alert, NDTV

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