NASA releases catalog packed with the most bizarre alien worlds

By Passant Rabie | Gizmodo |

GIZMODO - Do we live in an unusual star system? Astronomers have been trying to figure out if the Solar System is unique compared to other stars and their orbiting planets, and they just took a major step towards answering the longstanding cosmic mystery.

An international team of planet-hunting astronomers spent three years analyzing thousands of measurements to calculate the masses of 120 confirmed exoplanets, as well as six candidate planets, spread across the northern sky. The result is an extensive catalog that details just how bizarre and exotic these alien worlds are and how they compare to our own star system. The findings are detailed in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement.

Using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) in collaboration with the W.M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawai’i, the newly released catalog features a wide array of planets orbiting different kinds of stars. “With this information, we can begin to answer questions about where our solar system fits in to the grand tapestry of other planetary systems,” Stephen Kane, University of California, Riverside astrophysicist and principal investigator of the TESS-Keck Survey, said in a statement.

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