August 26th, 2010
01:36 PM ET

NASA announces discovery of 2 new planets

An artist's rendering shows two Saturn-sized planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission.

NASA has announced the discovery of two planets, slightly smaller than Saturn, orbiting the same star in the Milky Way, which have been discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope.

William Borucki, the Kepler Mission Science Principal Investigator, at the NASA Ames Research Center, announced on a teleconference "the first discovery of multiple planets orbiting the same star."

The two planets, known as Kepler 9B and 9C, have a clear gravitational interaction, according to NASA.

A third celestial body, has also been discovered. It's about 1.5 times the size of Earth, but it has not yet, been confirmed as a planet.

"The discovery incorporates seven months of observations of more than 156,000 stars as part of an ongoing search for Earth-sized planets outside our solar system," NASA said in a press release.

Read full story on Read more about Kepler mission

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Filed under: Space
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Michael

    The earlier news is that Kepler found 400 or so candidates for earth sized.

    August 26, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DimWit

    It's Planet X....YouTube it people!

    August 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      PLANET X – another hoax.

      August 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dumber

    No way! We landed on the moon!!! That's fantastic!

    August 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sigh

    In similar news, i found a rock in my driveway.

    August 26, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tyrannasaurus


    August 26, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • abbydaddy

      kinda makes ya feel small doesn't it? All the wars, and hate too, if people only realized it.

      August 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sen Viejo

    this discovery is great news – so, when do we all move?

    August 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Corwin

    Alan Boyle writes: NASA's Kepler planet-hunting probe has spotted a system where two giant planets are locked in constantly changing orbits — with a super-Earth potentially pinned down in the crossfire.

    Astronomers like to think of planets as a kind of celestial clockwork, keeping regular time. For example, the time it takes for the planets in our own solar system to complete their orbits can be calculated to within fractions of a second, and unless something huge happens, they'll stick to that timetable for billions of years.

    In contrast, the two Saturn-size planets circling a sunlike star now known as Kepler-9, more than 2,000 light-years from Earth, shift their timetable with every go-round. Kepler-9b has an orbit lasting approximately 19.24 Earth days, while Kepler-9c has an orbit lasting a little more than twice as long, 38.91 days. But on average, Kepler-9b's orbit got about 4 minutes longer every time the Kepler astronomers checked, while Kepler-9c's averaged about 39 minutes shorter.

    That suggests the planets are in the midst of a gravitational push-pull that keeps the orbits close to a 2-to-1 ratio, in what's known as a planetary resonance. In our own solar system, Pluto and Neptune are in a similar resonance (2-to-3), which is why little Pluto can't be kicked out of its orbit. The same thing applies to the Kepler-9 system.

    "The system is stable in the sense that no planet will be ejected," said Matthew Holman, an astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who is the principal author of a Kepler paper being published today on the journal Science's website.

    "The orbits of the planets are changing, but these variations are oscillatory," Holman told me in an e-mail. "On average, the period ratio will be very close to 2-to-1. However, at any given instant that ratio may be bigger than 2-to-1 or smaller than 2-to-1."

    Orbital variations has long been known to be theoretically possible, but Kepler-9 is the first confirmed planetary system where astronomers have been able to register this type of off-schedule behavior. It's actually quite a lucky break for the Kepler team. "The variations in what we call the transit times are large enough that we can use those transit timing variations to estimate the masses of thes bodies,"

    msnbc news

    August 26, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. HappyDem

    This is all George Bush's fault. And I think Sarah Palin had her hand in it as well!

    August 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. H8L.A.andCATaxes

    Do they have lower taxes than California there? How do I get there?

    August 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. w l jones

    Our Sun is eighteen inches or 93AU from earth Thereby if the nearst sun were 4.5 light years from here which mean it would be 24 twillion 5 hundred million mile from here. Believe me with advavce technoledge one can make the trip there and back within six hours. But those planets no doubt within two to five hundred million from here. Others Earthlike planets look the same as this one except the amount of surface water.

    August 26, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kazz


    August 26, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FatherStorm

    @Jessica Under that argument, circa 1400's, There's plenty of space here in Europe, what would be the point of looking for new lands across an ocean we have no idea ever ends?

    August 26, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. blahblah blahbby blah

    They have found something on Uranus.

    August 26, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mahdeealoo

    How long until we can buy property there? Who has first dibs? 🙂

    August 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kyle

    Kepler 9B huh, so that's where Obama is from

    August 27, 2010 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
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