Student Researched Kepler Data to Find 17 New Planet Candidates

University of British Columbia astronomy student Michelle Kunimoto has discovered 17 new planets, including a potentially habitable, Earth-sized world, by combing through data gathered by NASA’s Kepler mission.

Exoplanet KIC-7340288 b is just 1 ½ times the size of Earth – small enough to be considered rocky, instead of gaseous like the giant planets of the Solar System – and in the habitable zone of its star.

“This planet is about a thousand light years away, so we’re not getting there anytime soon!” said Kunimoto, a PhD candidate in the department of physics and astronomy. “But this is a really exciting find, since there have only been 15 small, confirmed planets in the Habitable Zone found in Kepler data so far.”

Using automated and manual triage provided estimates of the completeness and reliability of our vetting pipeline. The search returned 17 planet candidates (PCs) in addition to thousands of known Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs), with a 98.8% recovery rate of already confirmed planets. They present adaptive optics imaging follow-up for six of our new PCs, two of which reveal a line-of-sight stellar companion within 4”.

SOURCES – UBC, The Astronomical Journal
Written By Brian Wang,