In 2022, astronomers from around the world discovered over 200 exoplanets outside of our solar system, bringing the total known exoplanet count to over 5,200.
Many of these new discoveries, including some that are rocky like Earth or Mars, are prime candidates for further observation by telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope.
According to NASA An exoplanet is a planet outside our solar system, usually orbiting another star. They are also sometimes called “extrasolar planets,” “extra-” implying that they are outside of our solar system.
One particularly interesting find was HD 109833 b, a Neptune-like exoplanet with a mass of 8.69 Earths that orbits a G-type star every 9.2 days. Another notable discovery was a pair of water-rich exoplanets located 218 light-years away in the constellation Lyra, which were discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope.
As the exoplanet search continues, scientists hope to find a world that could potentially support human life and orbit a star similar to our own Sun.
“We started the year with fewer than 5,000 confirmed exoplanets. We end with 5,235 known worlds. About 4% are rocky planets like Earth or Mars. What will the new year bring? More planets!” Nasa said in a tweet.
The known exoplanets, or planets outside of our solar system, have a wide range of characteristics and compositions. These include small rocky planets like Earth, gas giants larger than Jupiter, and hot Jupiters that orbit close to their stars.
The Exoplanets includes “Super-Earths”
The exoplanet list also includes “super-Earths,” which are potentially rocky planets bigger than Earth, and “mini-Neptunes,” smaller versions of Neptune in our solar system.
In 2022, one newly discovered exoplanet was HD 109833 b, a Neptune-like planet orbiting a G-type star with a mass of 8.69 Earths and a 9.2 day orbit.
Astronomers also found two exoplanets orbiting a red dwarf star that were filled with water and located 218 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.
These exoplanets, which are around 1.5 times the size of Earth, were discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. Researchers believe that these planets may contain materials that are lighter than rock but heavier than hydrogen or helium, based on comparisons of their sizes and masses to models.
Earth is the only planet where we have discovered life so far. However, scientists are actively looking for other planets in the universe that may be similar to Earth and may potentially harbor life.
We know that life on Earth can thrive in a wide range of conditions, including extreme temperatures, radiation, salinity, acidity, and aridity. This suggests that it is possible that life may have evolved on other planets and adapted to conditions that are very different from those on Earth.
The search for exoplanets with the potential to support human life and orbit a star like our Sun continues.