The NASA team that operates the Kepler space telescope has used their all-seeing eye to find 11 new planetary systems. The new discovery brings the total number of planets that have been discovered by the Kepler team to 60. In all, there are 729 confirmed extra-solar planets. As always, the team uses regular changes in the light of the star to tell if planets are orbiting.
The most interesting of the planetary systems in the newly discovered group is called Kepler-33. This star is bigger and older than our sun. It has five planets and the cool part is that all five of the planets orbit the parent star at a distance closer to that of Mars to the Sun. The planets are all larger than Earth as well ranging from 1.5 times the Earth’s diameter to five times Earth diameter.
At this point, the scientists studying the planets don’t know if they are rocky planets like Earth and Mars or if they are gas giants like Saturn or Jupiter. There are 2,300 other planet candidates that the scientists still need to confirm. Nine of the other newly discovered planetary systems have two planets and one has three with all of those planets orbiting closer to the host planet than Venus to the sun.