The Most Distant Exoplanet Ever Found by Kepler Is… Surprisingly Familiar

R&I – FS

An exoplanet a whopping 17,000 light-years from Earth has been found hiding in data collected by the now-retired Kepler Space Telescope.

It’s the most distant world ever picked up by the planet-hunting observatory, twice the distance of its previous record. Fascinatingly, the exoplanet is almost an exact twin of Jupiter – of similar mass, and orbiting at almost the same distance as Jupiter’s distance from the Sun.

Named K2-2016-BLG-0005Lb, it represents the first exoplanet confirmed from a 2016 data run that detected 27 possible objects using a technique called gravitational microlensing rather than Kepler’s primary detection method. The discovery has been submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and is available on preprint server arXiv.

“Kepler was never designed to find planets using microlensing so, in many ways, it’s amazing that it has done so,” said astronomer Eamonn Kerins of the University of Manchester.


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