Kepler telescope bags huge haul of planets

The science team sifting data from the US space agency's (Nasa) Kepler telescope says it has identified 715 new planets beyond our Solar System.

This is a huge new haul.

In the nearly two decades since the first so-called exoplanet was discovered, researchers had claimed the detection of just over 1,000 new worlds.

Kepler's latest bounty are all in multi-planet systems; they orbit only 305 stars.

The vast majority, 95%, are smaller than our Neptune, which is four times the radius of the Earth.

Four of the new planets are less than 2.5 times the radius of Earth, and they orbit their host suns in the "habitable zone" - the region around a star where water can keep a liquid state.

Whether that is the case on these planets cannot be known for sure - Kepler's targets are hundreds of light-years in the distance, and this is too far away for very detailed investigation.


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