An international team of scientists discovered 104 planets based on the images sent by Kepler. The data had been verified through a network of telescopes, including Maunakea and the Automated Planet Finder from the University of California.
The researchers acknowledged the existence of a series of planets which include a planetary system with four space objects that may be similar to Earth.
Kepler in a Second Mission
The initial Kepler mission involved surveying a part of the sky that showed up on the northern hemisphere. The telescope measured the frequencies of planets with temperatures and size as the Earth.
However, Kepler encountered a technical issue that made it impossible to focus on the initial area of the Universe as it was first designed. Since 2013, the scientists used the telescope to gather information on other parts of the sky.
The second mission was named K2, and it had proved to be prolific regarding astronomic discoveries. The special characteristic of the mission is that the scientific community decides the targets of the study. Therefore, K2 started to look at red dwarf stars and other interesting space objects.
The W. M. Keck Observatory manages the two optical/infrared telescopes on Mauna Kea. The devices include spectrographs, adaptive optics systems, and imagery.
The Near-Infrared Camera helps obtaining spatial resolutions and it will probably be the one to help the discovery of the massive black hole in the center of the Universe.
The High-Resolution Echelle Spectrometer splits light into spectra and offers a wide wavelength range. The scientists will use it to study quasars, galaxies, and find clues to the origins of the universe.
The Four Special Planets
The second Kepler mission led to the discovery of a very interesting set o planets. Four of them are potentially rock planets, with a size close to the one Earth-size. The star they are orbiting is half the size of our Sun, and it there is also less light sent towards the planets.
The scientists calculated that their orbital periods are between five and 24 days, and the level of the radiation received from their star is similar to the one Earth receives from the sun.
The scientists believe that one of these planets could foster life and that K2 may help them discover other medium scale planets that are similar to Earth.
As the planets orbit brighter stars, the researchers will have more information on their characteristics. The mass can be measured with Doppler spectroscopy, and in the near future the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to measure their atmospheric composition.
Image Source: Wikipedia