Kepler Space Telescope’s First Exoplanet Confirmed

Kepler-1658b has been confirmed as a planet a decade after it was first detected. It lies 2,600 light-years from the sun. NASA launches the Kepler Space Telescope aboard a Delta II rocket in 2009, and this was the first to catch sight of the planet. Data gathered to date has shown that Kepler-1656b is indeed a planet outside the solar system or exoplanet. It is referred to as a hot Jupiter and rotates around its parent star known as Kepler-1658 roughly every 4 days.



Revisiting the Numbers

The planet was previously known as KOI (Kepler Object of Interest) 4. When it was first found, it was thought to be the size of Neptune, and it was believed to be orbiting a sun roughly the size of the earth’s sun. Its status as a planet was dismissed because the observations during an eclipse did not match the proposed size of this candidate planet.

A second look at the data from previous observations has led to a complete shift in what was formerly thought of the potential planet. Using stellar sound waves, it has been found that Kepler-1658b is much bigger than previously concluded. A graduate student at the University of Hawaii, Ashley Chontos, is the lead author in the new study. The exciting findings were recently announced in Glendale, California at the Kepler/K2 Science Conference.

The star Kepler-1658 (or KOI-4.01 and KIC 3861595) is 1.45 times more massive than the sun and three times larger. It is younger than the sun, and from the planet’s surface, it appears 60 times larger in diameter compares with the sun observed from the earth.

After its launch 10 years ago, Kepler contributed much in the discovery of many exoplanets in its two completed missions. As many as 3,000 candidates spotted during these missions are still to be confirmed as exoplanets depending on the outcome of further analysis of the data and observations.

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Alexandra grew up dreaming of being a great science explorer. She always wanted to travel the world and explore some of the greatest science mysteries of the times. After high school, she studied chemistry in college and spent most of her summers working on research projects alongside her professors. It was there that Alexandra got clarity about what she wanted to do in the future. She now works full time in science research at a teaching university and is planning to go to medical school in a few years. She likes to stay up-to-date with the latest discoveries in science and share her love for science through her writing.

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