Prevalence and Properties of Planets: Discoveries from Kepler and K2

ticker_keplerAs we mark the twentieth anniversary of the discovery of the first planet orbiting another Sun-like star, the study of extrasolar planets is maturing beyond individual discoveries to detailed characterization of the planet population as a whole. No mission has played more of a role in this paradigm shift than NASA’s Kepler mission. Discoveries from the prime Kepler mission demonstrated that small planets (< 3 Earth-radii) are common outcomes of planet formation around G, K, and M stars. While Kepler detected many such planets, all but a handful orbit faint, distant stars, which are not amenable to precise follow up measurements. NASA’s K2 mission has the potential to increase the number of known small, transiting planets around bright stars by an order of magnitude. I will present the latest results from my team’s efforts to detect, confirm, and characterize planets using the K2 mission.

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