Space is a vast ocean with several quadrillion stars and countless planets orbiting them. Our sun and our planet are one of the numerous celestial objects out there in the limitless cosmic ocean. Ever since astronomers have started searching for exoplanets (planets outside our solar system), thousands of new worlds have been discovered orbiting as many number of stars. In another spate of discovery, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Sonneberg Observatory and the Georg August University have stumbled upon 18 planets that are Earth-sized.
The discovery was made after the scientists applied a new type of data analytics algorithm to sift through all the data gathered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Additionally, the team behind the discovery is confident of finding many more exoplanets that had remained hidden in the vast dataset compiled during the Kepler mission. The most popular and reliable method for finding planets is the transit method. When a planet revolving around its star crosses it and if it’s orbital plane happens to be aligned with our line of sight to the star, the planet blocks out a small portion of light from its star. Scientists can then measure the variations in brightness caused by the revolving planet and measure the planet’s approximate size and the time it’s would require to complete one revolution around its star.
But this method is not as effective if the planet is far away from its star and requires more time to complete one year. The new algorithm considers all of the relevant criteria in its analytics and soon was able to find 18 new worlds that had previously eluded the scientific community.