LOS ANGELES: More than 5,000 planets have been found to exist beyond the solar system, a milestone for astronomy confirmed by NASA on Monday (March 21).
The 5,000-plus exoplanets found so far include small, rocky worlds like Earth, gas giants many times larger than Jupiter, and "hot Jupiters" in scorchingly close orbits around their stars, according to NASA, said Xinhua news agency.
Those exoplanets have been confirmed using multiple detection methods or by analytical techniques.
According to NASA, powerful next-generation telescopes and their highly sensitive instruments, starting with the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope, will capture light from the atmospheres of exoplanets, reading which gases are present to potentially identify signs of habitable conditions.
The scientific milestone was achieved by the addition of 65 exoplanets to the NASA Exoplanet Archive on Monday.
"It's not just a number," said Jessie Christiansen, science lead for the archive and a research scientist with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in Pasadena.
"Each one of them is a new world, a brand-new planet.
"I get excited about every one because we don't know anything about them." – Bernama