NASA discovers 11 new solar systems

An artist’s impression of the orbital position of planets in systems discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission

NASA’s Kepler space telescope has discovered eleven new planetary systems confirming the existence of 26 new planets outside our solar system.

The newly found planets range in size from 1.5 to five times the diameter of Earth and are closer to their host star than Venus is to the Sun.

None of the newly detected planetary systems are like our solar system with the exception of the one with Kepler-33 as its core star.

Kepler-33 is older and bigger than our sun and has five planets but they all orbit closer to their parent star than Mercury orbits the Sun.

The discoveries increase the number of confirmed extra-solar planets to 729, 60 of which are credited to the Kepler team.

“Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky,” said NASA Kepler program scientist Doug Hudgins.

“Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates,” he added.

“This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits.”

Scientists say further observations are needed to determine which of the planets are rocky and which are filled with gas.

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, which was launched in 2009, is a satellite telescope on a mission to survey our Milky Way galaxy in search of Earth-like planets.

Astronomers of NASA’s Kepler mission are hopeful that the new discovery could help them better understand how planets are formed.

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