NASA confirms discovery of 5,000 worlds outside the solar system

(ORDO NEWS) — In January 1992, two space objects changed our galaxy forever.

For the first time, we had concrete evidence of extrasolar planets or exoplanets orbiting an alien star: two rocky worlds 2,300 light-years away.

Now, just over 30 years later, that number has multiplied. This week, March 21 marked an extremely important milestone with over 5,000 confirmed exoplanets. To be precise, there are currently 5,005 exoplanets documented in the NASA Exoplanet Archive, each with its own unique characteristics.

Each of these exoplanets has appeared in peer-reviewed studies and has been observed using multiple detection or analysis methods.

Research is important for future exploration to learn more about these worlds through new instruments such as the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope and the upcoming Nancy Grace Rome Space Telescope.

“It’s not just numbers,” says astronomer Jesse Christiansen of NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology. “Each of them is a new world, a completely new planet. I’m in awe of each of them because we don’t know anything about them.”

The Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, has listed more than 3,000 confirmed exoplanets, with 3,000 more candidates waiting in the wings.

Because it is very difficult to study exoplanets directly they are small, very faint, very far away, and often very close to a bright star whose light drowns out anything the exoplanet can reflect there is still a lot we don’t know. In addition, there are many more worlds beyond our current detection thresholds.

But in the coming years, these thresholds will recede before the development of technology and new methods of analysis, and we may find many worlds that we never even dreamed of. We may even find traces of life outside the solar system.

“I have a real sense of satisfaction and awe of what is going on there,” Boruki says.

“None of us expected such a huge variety of planetary systems and stars. It’s just amazing.”

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