Amateurs Find 42 New Planets

A volunteer group of amateur astronomers claims to have discovered 42 new planets. The aptly named Planet Hunters sifted through the data captured by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

The discovery includes as many as 15 planets that are orbiting in the “Goldilocks” or habitable zone around their parent star. Planets in this zone, like Earth, exist in favorable conditions where liquid water is present on the surface. The presence of water raises the possibility that there can be sustainable life on the planet.

Planet Hunters also located the planet PH2 b which is the size of Jupiter and may potentially support life. While the planet itself may be too large to provide the necessary conditions, any circling moons would be in the habitable zone.

The Planet Hunters consists of volunteers from several universities, including Yale and Oxford. The group discovered its first of 48 planets in October 2011.

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