Total number of known exoplanets now greater than 500, could easily double in a year

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There has been some anticipation over the past few weeks regarding the 500 exoplanet milestone, and now it seems we have reached it. Since about the beginning of this month the number of exoplanets discovered this year has also been greater than the total discovered in 2009, so that is also a new record. This chart (updated to 3 October at the moment) shows what the number was a month before. It's pretty interesting to look at years like 2003 - that year doesn't feel like all that long ago, but back then we were only discovering a pitiful 30 planets a year. The most important number though in the article is the number 20, and that is because it has to do with Kepler:

"Our false positive rate continues to be rather low," he said. "It appears to be below 20 percent."
Out of the 700 candidates being observed right now then that means that some 550 should turn out to be real planets. And more importantly, the majority of the planets Kepler is and has discovered are not Jupiter-size and larger, but Neptune-size and smaller, and these are far more interesting if you're a human.

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