First potential exoplanet spotted by Kepler finally confirmed
Published : Thursday, 7 March, 2019 at 2:57 PM Count : 497
The first potential planet ever spotted by the now-retired Kepler telescope has finally been confirmed.
Dubbed Kepler-1658b, it orbits its star once every 3.85 days and endured a long road to reaching scientific consensus of its existence, daily Mail reports.
Scientists grappled with data for more than a decade in order to correctly categorise the object.
It was first marked as a planet, then considered to be a false positive result before recent analysis proved it was actually a 'hot Jupiter' gas giant.
Lead author Ashley Chontos, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii was poring over Kepler's vast troves of data when she saw Kepler-1658b.
NASA says initial estimates of the planet's host star were incorrect and both the star and the planet were vastly underestimated.
Scientists scratched off Kepler's first sighting as an analytical error until Ms Chontos used new software to reassess the data.
'Our new analysis, which uses stellar sound waves observed in the Kepler data to characterise the star, demonstrated that the star is in fact three times larger than previously thought,' she said.
'This in turn means that the planet is three times larger, revealing that Kepler-1658b is actually a hot Jupiter.'
She added the data from Kepler still offers several 'treasures' and a better understanding of exoplanet systems.
Dan Huber, co-author and astronomer at the University of Hawaii, said: 'We alerted Dave Latham and his team collected the necessary spectroscopic data to unambiguously show that Kepler-1658b is a planet.
'As one of the pioneers of exoplanet science and a key figure behind the Kepler mission, it was particularly fitting to have Dave be part of this confirmation.'
Kepler's mission was originally earmarked to last 3.5 years but stringent use of fuel enabled it to remain operational for 9 years, 7 months and 23 days.
Its mission was to scour the skies, both near and far, in the search for planets orbiting other stars.
Kepler discovered more than 2,600 worlds beyond our solar system and statistically proved that the Milky Way is home to more planets than stars.
It was made of 42 image sensors called charged coupled devices (CCDs)and each one had a resolution of 1,024 by 2,200 pixels.