Last Tuesday, on March 12th, an international group of astronomers at the Exoplanet Team, headed by Observatoire de Paris, announced that the total of the known planets outside the solar system reached 4,001. That wouldn’t have been possible without the latest new exoplanets discovered.
The before-mentioned Exoplanet Team keeps a site called The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia where they update the list of the known exoplanets with every new such distant world that is found.
“Today is a celebration day as we are now over 4,000 planets validated in our database, and this number will grow very quickly thanks to intensive ongoing work,” the Exoplanet Team stated.
The latest two new exoplanets discovered made it possible for the astronomers to update their list and celebrate the fact that humanity managed to find 4,001 planets outside our solar system. That number, however, is going to grow fast as the work on finding new exoplanets is quite intensive.
The total of known planets outside the solar system reached 4,001, thanks to the new exoplanets discovered
Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail were the first in the world to find the first two exoplanets. Soon afterward, they spotted the third one with the Arecibo Observatory. In 1995, five years later, astronomers identified a new exoplanet around 51 Pegasi, and that one was the first one observed to orbit a star similar to the Sun.
Then, multiple missions focused on finding planets outside our solar system with the hope to spot one or more that could maintain life. Now, “at least 49 of the known exoplanets are potentially habitable,” said Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL).
Searching for exoplanets means also searching for extraterrestrial life, and finding a planet in the Goldilocks zone is always a reason for the scientists to check out if it’s habitable. Until now, no direct evidence of alien life on an exoplanet has been found.
As for the new exoplanets discovered that raised the total to 4,001 known exoplanets, both of them orbit around the star system cataloged as EPIC 203868608 which is located at about 500 light years from Earth.