Star brightness, put to music
This is the area of the sky where the Kepler telescope is focused.
June 12th, 2012
11:05 AM ET

Star brightness, put to music

Do you hear the stars? Listen here.

At the Georgia Tech Sonification Lab, scientists have turned all sorts of data sets into music, including stock market prices and election results. Now, they've turned to data from distant stars.

The band Echo Movement wanted the researchers to turn data from stars into music for their upcoming album.

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Filed under: In Space • Kepler
Kepler team confirms 26 more planets
The relative sizes of Kepler-discovered planets (pre-January in red, January in green, unverified in purple) and our solar system's planets (blue).
January 26th, 2012
07:37 PM ET

Kepler team confirms 26 more planets

Scientists' list of verified planets is now more than two dozen planets longer, thanks to NASA's Kepler space telescope team.

The Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems with 26 verified planets in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations, NASA said Thursday.

This nearly triples the number of verified multiple-planet stars that the Kepler mission has discovered, now standing at 17. And it nearly doubles the number of verified planets it has discovered, which now is 61.

Before the Kepler satellite was launched in 2009, scientists knew about perhaps 500 planets outside our solar system "across the whole sky," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA.

"Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates," Hudgins said in a news release. "This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits."

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Filed under: Discoveries • In Space • Kepler
January 11th, 2012
01:01 PM ET

A planet for every star

Researchers have concluded that each star in the Milky Way galaxy likely has at least one planet orbiting it, meaning that our galaxy has at least 100 billion planets to its name.

Given that it's news every time Kepler discovers a new exoplanet (a planet orbiting a star other than our sun), how did astronomers come to this conclusion?

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Kepler discovers more planets
An artist's concept of Kepler-20e.
December 20th, 2011
02:13 PM ET

Kepler discovers more planets

NASA scientists today announced the discovery of two Earth sized planets, named Kepler 20E and 20F. The planets were discovered by the Kepler space telescope team. "The first of the two planets has a diameter just 3 percent larger than the Earth, which makes it the closest object to Earth, in terms of size in the known universe," said Francois Fressin, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, during a conference call to announce the major discovery.

The two planets are believed to be too close to their sun and thus too hot to be habitable with temperatures ranging from 800 to 14
hundred degrees. Scientists speculate that Kepler 20F might have had liquid water at one time in its history and could have been habitable.

The Kepler science team says this is the first time humanity has been able to detect planets of Earth size in the Universe.

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December 5th, 2011
05:57 PM ET

Your thoughts: Search for life on other planets

Editor's note: This post is affiliated with the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Life, as we know it, needs certain conditions to exist. Readers yesterday had some strong opinions about searching for that life elsewhere, after NASA made an announcement about a new planet outside our solar system:

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Filed under: Kepler • News • Overheard on CNN.com
December 5th, 2011
11:16 AM ET

Planet confirmed that could have water

Kepler-22b is the first confirmed planet in the “habitable zone,” the area around a star where a planet could exist with liquid water on its surface, that has been discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission.

The planet’s radius is about 2.4 times that of the Earth. It is located about 600 light years away. Its orbital period is shorter than that of the Earth: a "year" on Kepler-22b is 290 days instead of 365.

There were two other planets confirmed this year by other projects in the habitable zone, but their stars are much cooler than our Sun, and their orbits are more like that of Venus or Mars, scientists say.

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Kepler Launch in 2009
December 5th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Kepler Launch in 2009

"On Launch Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United Launch Alliance's Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Kepler spacecraft rises through the exhaust cloud created by the firing of the rocket’s engines. Liftoff was on time at 10:49 p.m. EST on March 6, 2009.

Kepler is a space-borne telescope designed to search the nearby region of our galaxy for Earth-size planets orbiting in the habitable zone of stars like our sun. The habitable zone is the region around a star where temperatures permit water to be liquid on a planet's surface. The challenge for Kepler is to look at a large number of stars in order to statistically estimate the total number of Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars in the habitable zone. Kepler will survey more than 100,000 stars in our galaxy."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Kepler • Light up the screen
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