NASA’s Kepler space telescope unveils a wealth of new worlds.
On February 26, 2014, scientists using NASA's Kepler space telescope announced the discovery of 715 new planets within our region of the Milky Way. The number practically doubles the list of planets known to humanity. Kepler spotted 3,600 potential planets within the first two years of operation by detecting slight dips in the brightness of more than 100,000 nearby stars. The challenge, however, is distinguishing the real planets from the fakes, a laborious process that involves sifting through the candidate planets, one by one. But by employing a new method that can verify multiple planets at once, researchers were able to speed up their search. About 95 percent of the newly discovered worlds are smaller than Neptune, with four orbiting within the habitable zones of their host stars. The findings suggest that small, Earth-like planets may be more abundant in our galaxy than previously thought. Watch the video to learn more.