Wednesday, November 24, 2010

500 th planet got discovered

Astronomers have discovered the 500th exoplanet outside our solar system, a database maintained by a French astronomer says. Astrobiologist Jean Schneider of the Paris-Meudon Observatory, who compiles the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, says less than 20 years after the discovery of the first exoplanet he has logged No. 500, discovered Nov. 19, reported.

The 500th extrasolar planet was reported in the midst of the announcement of the discovery of several others, counting a planet tagged HIP 13044b astronomers say was born in another galaxy before being captured by our own Milky Way galaxy.

Less than two months ago astronomers announced a watershed moment, the discovery of the first potentially habitable exoplanet. Meanwhile, data is pouring in from planet-hunting instruments like NASA's Kepler space observatory.

Kepler has already identified more than 700 "candidate" stars worthy of further observation and confirmation, and a high percentage of those will probably be found to have planets, says Jon Jenkins of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute.

Jenkins is the lead analyst for the Kepler mission.