NASA says it has discovered a system of seven sweltering planets orbiting a Sun-like star. This was revealed in a study of data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.
Each planet in this system, named Kepler-385, is bathed in more radiant heat from their host star per area than any planet in the solar system.
All the seven planets are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. It is one of only a few planetary systems known to contain more than six verified planets or planet candidates.
The Kepler-385 system is among the highlights of a new Kepler catalog that contains almost 4,400 planet candidates, including more than 700 multi-planet systems.
A research article, titled “Updated Catalog of Kepler Planet Candidates: Focus on Accuracy and Orbital Periods,” will be published in the upcoming issue of The Journal of Planetary Science.
“We’ve assembled the most accurate list of Kepler planet candidates and their properties to date,” said Jack Lissauer, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and lead author on the paper presenting the new catalog. “NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered the majority of known exoplanets, and this new catalog will enable astronomers to learn more about their characteristics.”
At the center of the Kepler-385 system is a Sun-like star, which is about 10 percent larger and 5 percent hotter than the Sun. The two inner planets, both slightly larger than Earth, are probably rocky and may have thin atmospheres. The other five planets are larger – each with a radius about twice the size of Earth – and expected to be enshrouded in thick atmospheres.
Although Kepler’s extended mission ended in 2018, the data that the telescope collected continues to reveal new discoveries about the galaxy.
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