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Saturday, June 19, 2010

PlanetQuest - the number of Exoplanets Found is about to skyrocket!

PlanetQuest: Exoplanet Exploration

NASA's JPL/CalTech website reports the current exoplanet count at 453 as of June 19, 2010. The number of stars with planets is a bit lower and stands at 385, meaning that some stars have more than one planet orbiting them.

The image below is a screen shot (from this author's screen) of a widget for your desktop and can be downloaded from the PlanetQuest Planet Counter page. It will keep you current on the hunt for exoplanets, but you'll have to have Yahoo! Widgets installed to make it work.

As soon as the recent first data set from the Kepler mission, which is devoted to finding exoplanets (particularly, Earth-like planets), is fully analyzed, the count of exoplanets is sure to skyrocket. But right now, the data set, just released to the public, reports 306 exoplanet "candidates." That means those candidate explanets must still be confirmed before adding them to the official exoplanet count.