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100 New Planets Discovered By Arizona-Led Team

artist's concept of select planetary discoveries
(Photo by W. Stenzel - NASA)
An artist's concept of select planetary discoveries made by NASA's Kepler space telescope.

A team of astronomers led by the University of Arizona has confirmed the existence of 100 planets outside our solar system. The original discovery came via NASA’s K2 space telescope.

Scientists say at least four of the planets may have rocky features similar to Earth’s and are orbiting a star less than half the size of our sun.

Ian Crossfield of UA’s Lunar and Planetary Lab said the findings will open the door for further study of the newly discovered bodies, all more than 100 light years away from Earth.

“We might care about them because we might be interested in knowing how solar systems and planets like our own formed, so putting our own home here in the cosmos in better context in terms of understanding our place in the universe.”

Crossfield led the international team that confirmed the planets’ existence using telescopes on Earth.

Crossfield said astronomers hope to employ a new telescope in continuing their examination of this group of planets. The telescope is called the James Webb Space Telescope, and it is scheduled to launch in late 2018.

Sara Hammond has an extensive background in journalism as well as corporate communication. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s (UA) School of Journalism, Hammond interned at the Tucson Citizen and, after graduation, spent 10 years reporting for the Portland Press Herald in Maine.