NASA launched the Kepler telescope into space in March of 2009, and it has already found all sorts of cool sh-t. We can add 26 more things to that list, as NASA just announced Kepler found 26 confirmed exoplanets orbiting 11 different stars, nearly doubling the number of exoplanets Kepler has discovered so far. 729 exoplanets in total have been found (60 of them credited to Kepler). All of the new 26 orbit their star closer than Venus orbits the sun, and all range in size from 150% to 500% the diameter of Earth.
Nearly all of the newfound exoplanets are in a planetary system with multiple planets orbiting a parent star, which is kind of a big deal:
“This has tripled the number of stars which we know have more than one transiting planet, so that’s the big deal here,” [Jack] Lissauer told Reuters. “We’re starting to think in terms of planetary systems as opposed to just planets: Do they all tend to have similar sizes? What’s the spacing? Is the solar system unusual in those regards?” he said. [ChicagoTribune]
And can we live on them? And are they made of marshmallow fluff? And are they subject to yo mamma’s enormous gravitational pull? WE NEED ANSWERS.