NASA’s prolonged Kepler mission, known as K2, has made another significant discovery, revealing the existence of three new exoplanets.
The newly found alien worlds circle the nearby star GJ 9827 and were classified as “super-Earths.” The finding is presented in a paper published Sept. 6 on arXiv.org.
Kepler is the most prolific planet-hunting telescope. The spacecraft has discovered more than 2,300 exoplanets to date. After the failure of its two reaction wheels in 2013, the mission was repurposed as K2 to perform high-precision photometry of selected fields in the ecliptic. Since then, the revived Kepler spacecraft has detected nearly 160 extrasolar worlds.
Now, a team of astronomers led by Joseph Rodriguez of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reports the finding of three new exoplanets from the data provided by K2. The Kepler spacecraft observed GJ 9827 from December 2016 to March 2017, during its Campaign 12. These observations allowed the team to discover that this nearby late K-type dwarf star is orbited by three alien worlds. The newly found planets were classified as “super-Earths” as they have masses higher than Earth’s but lower than that of Solar System’s gas giants.