The first extrasolar planets were discovered and confirmed in 1992. This evidence opened the door to what was announced today by NASA, the existence of 5005 worlds outside our Solar System. These exoplanets are now documented by the American agency, each with its own specificities, but with something in common with Earth: they all revolve around a star.
It was in January 1992 that the first two exoplanets or, in other words, extrasolar planets, were discovered and confirmed. We are talking about two rocky worlds more than 2300 light years from Earth that orbit their own star.
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Each of these exoplanets has appeared in peer-reviewed studies and has been observed using various detection techniques or analysis methods. Still, there is a lot to discover about each of them and that is why they continue to be placed at the service of machine scientists to help in this process, as is the case of the recently launched James Webb space telescope and the future Nancy Grace Roman.
This “is not just a number,” according to astronomer Jessie Christiansen of NASA’s Institute for Exoplanet Science at Caltech. Each of them is a new world, a whole new planet. I get excited about each one because we don’t know anything about them.
The first two confirmed worlds, discovered by astronomers Alexander Wolszczan and Dale Frail, were exoplanets 4.3 and 3.9 times the mass of Earth, revolving around a dead star known for its millisecond pulsar. A third, much smaller exoplanet, 0.02 times the mass of Earth, was discovered in 1994. The exoplanets were named Poltergeist, Phobetor and Draugr, respectively.
The Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, has contributed more than 3,000 confirmed exoplanets to the list, with another 3,000 candidates awaiting analysis and research.
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