NASA has announced that there are more than 5,000 exoplanets beyond our solar system. On Monday, the US space agency discovered 65 more exoplanets, thus declaring the achievement of this record.
“This is not just a number,” said Jessie Christiansen, one of the principal scientists at NASA’s Exoplanet Institute, located near the California Institute of Technology. “Each of them is a new world, a new planet. I’m excited because we don’t know anything about them.”
According to researchers, this is the golden age of exoplanets. Although the existence of planets outside our solar system is something often mentioned in old science fiction movies, the first planet was only discovered in the early 1990s. These other worlds include planets that are much larger than Earth, often unmatched by any of the planets in our solar system. So far, NASA has been able to categorize these planets, 30% are gas giants, 31% are larger than Earth, and 35% are similar to Neptune. Only 4% are planets similar to Earth or Mars.
“Of the 5,000 exoplanets, 4,900 are only a few thousand light-years away,” Christiansen said. “But we are 30,000 light years away from the center of the galaxy, if we explore more around us, we can find many other planets, I think this figure can reach up to 200 billion.”
The more than 5,000 planets found so far include small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and “hot Jupiters” in very close orbits around their stars. There are “super-Earths” as well as “mini-Neptunes,” smaller versions of our system’s Neptune.