Kepler finds heaps of exoplanet candidates

Nasa has announced that 1,091 new transiting extrasolar planet candidates have emerged in data received from planet-hunting space telescope, Kepler. It brings the total count up to 2,321 exoplanet candidates.That number comes from data spanning May 2009 to September 2010, where nearly 5,000 periodic planetary transit-like signals (where a planet passes in front of a star, revealing its presence) were received, and subsequently vetted against known phenomena that could be masquerade as a transit.An example: eclipsing binary stars. When two stars orbit each other and block each others' light, it can look like a planetary transition.The data shows a clear trend towards finding smaller planets at longer orbital periods -- meaning planets more like Earth than like Jupiter. This latest data dump contains over 200 Earth-size candidates and more than 900 that are smaller than super-Earths (double our planet's 12,756km diameter).

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