In a big discovery, astronomers found over 200 new planets outside our solar system. In 2022 alone, astronomers discovered fewer than 5,000 exoplanets. And by the end of 2022, the number has grown to 5,235 exoplanets.
The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has helped the quest to discover more exoplanets. The most powerful observatory sent into space succeeded the Hubble telescope, which is still operating, and began transmitting its first cosmic images in July. One of the main goals of the $10-billion telescope is to study the life cycle of stars. Another main research focus is on exoplanets, planets outside Earth's solar system.
In a tweet, NASA said, "We started the year with fewer than 5,000 confirmed exoplanets. We end with 5,235 known worlds. About 4% are rocky planets like Earth or Mars. What will the new year bring? More planets!"
Exoplanets have a varied range of worlds when it comes to their composition and characteristics. While some are small and rocky, other looks a lot like Earth.
Astronomers discovered the latest planet in 2022, named HD 109833 b, it is a Neptune-like exoplanet that orbits around a G-type star. The astronomers found it using the transit method.
In a recent discovery, astronomers find that two exoplanets may be mostly water. Water wasn't directly detected, but by comparing the sizes and masses of the planets to models, they conclude that a significant fraction of their volume -- up to half of it -- should be made of materials that are lighter than rock but heavier than hydrogen or helium (which constitute the bulk of gas giant planets like Jupiter). The most common of these candidate materials is water.