Washington: Ten years after it was launched, the first exoplanet candidate spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope has finally been confirmed as a real world, scientists say. The exoplanet known as Kepler-1658 b is a massive hot Jupiter that whips around its star every 3.85 days, said researchers from the University of Hawaii in the US. From the surface, the star would appear 60 times larger in diameter than the Sun as seen from Earth, they said.
Kepler has discovered thousands of exoplanets since its launch in 2009, using the transit method — small dips in a star’s brightness as planets cross in front of the star. Because other phenomena can mimic transits, Kepler data reveal planet candidates, but further analysis is required to confirm them as genuine planets, according to the study published in the Astronomical Journal.
Despite being the very first planet candidate discovered by Kepler in 2011, Kepler-1658 b had a rocky road to confirmation.
The initial estimate of the size of the planet’s host star was incorrect, so the sizes of both the star and Kepler-1658 b were vastly underestimated, researchers said. It was later set aside as a false positive when the numbers did not quite make sense for the effects seen on its star for a body of that size, they said.