With planet hunting Kepler spacecraft, astronomers have discovered 1,235 candidate planets orbiting other suns since the Kepler mission’s search for Earth-like worlds began in 2009.
To find them, Kepler monitors a rich star field to identify planetary transits by the slight dimming of starlight caused by a planet crossing the face of its parent star. In this remarkable illustration, all of Kepler’s planet candidates are shown in transit with their parent stars ordered by size from top left to bottom right.
Stars and the silhouettes of transiting planets are all shown at the same relative scale, with saturated star colors. Of course, some stars show more than one planet in transit.
For reference, the Sun is shown at the same scale, by itself below the top row on the right. In silhouette against the Sun’s disk, both Jupiter and Earth are in transit. The largest star is 6.1 times larger that the Sun and the smallest stars are estimated to be only 0.3 times the radius of the Sun. The Sun is shown below the top row on the right by itself with the Earth and Jupiter in transit.
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