NASA recently announced that the organization discovered hundreds of new planets using its Kepler telescope technology.
According to Jason Rowe, the leader of the research at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., the findings were larger than expected.
“We studied just over 1,200 systems, and from there we were able to validate 719 planets. This is the biggest haul ever,” Rowe said.
All of the planets discovered are part of multiplanet systems, the Huffington Post reports. Multiplanet systems, like our solar system, have stars with more than one orbiting satellite.
Almost 95% of the planets discovered are also smaller than Neptune. Only four of the planets are in what’s referred to as the star’s habitable zone, or a position similar to that of Earth where liquid water could exist, the LA Times reports.
Because of the way the Kepler telescope’s technology works, the new planetary findings are not 100% confirmed. The possibility for “false positives” due to eclipsing binary stars or other light movement is relatively high. Some of the planets also need to be monitored over the course of several years to determine whether or not their orbital patterns align with those of a planet, so the information cannot be instantly confirmed. Still, scientists believe that the discovery is a significant one.
According to the Washington Post, the discovery actually doubles the amount of known planets outside our own solar system.