Astronomers Discover Planets in NASA Kepler’s Final Days of Observations

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profile picture of Elyse Incha
Elyse Incha

A team of astrophysicists — including a UW–Madison physics major — and citizen scientists have identified what may be some of the last planets NASA’s retired Kepler space telescope observed during its nearly decade-long mission.

The trio of exoplanets – worlds beyond our solar system – are all between the size of Earth and Neptune and closely orbit their stars.

”These are fairly average planets in the grand scheme of Kepler observations,” said Elyse Incha ’23. “But they’re exciting because Kepler observed them during its last few days of operations. It showcases just how good Kepler was at planet hunting, even at the end of its life.”

A paper about the planetary trio led by Incha was published in the May 30, 2023 issue of the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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