The haul is the largest amount of exoplanets—that is, planets outside our solar system—ever found at the same time, reports the Verge. The latest batch brings the total number of confirmed exoplanets found by Kepler and other telescopes to more than 3,200. Of those, astronomers say only 21 are rocky and orbit a habitable zone—not too close or too far away from their suns. Still, based on the data gathered by Kepler, NASA’s astronomers estimate that there could be as many as 10 billion rocky planets in a habitable zone in our galaxy alone. In 2018 the agency will launch the most powerful telescope ever built, the James Webb Space Telescope, which will study some of the exoplanets Kepler has discovered.
Image credit: NASAMG