By Nadia Drake
The revamped Kepler mission is raking in the discoveries, turning up new kinds of worlds.
After being crippled by a mechanical malfunction, NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft is back in action and has found a slew of planets orbiting other stars.
Called K2, the revamped mission has already found more than 100 confirmed planets, the University of Arizona’s Ian Crossfield announced Tuesday at a conference of the American Astronomical Society. Some of these are very different from what the spacecraft observed during its original mission; many are in multi-planet systems and orbit stars that are brighter and hotter than the stars in the original Kepler field.
It has found a system with three planets that are bigger than Earth, spotted a planet in the Hyades star cluster—the nearest open star cluster to Earth—and discovered a planet being ripped apart as it orbits a white dwarf star.
Scientists have also found 234 possible planets that are awaiting confirmation, said Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.[…]