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Kepler's first-ever exoplanet discovery finally confirmed

Vishal Kawadkar

Ten years after its launch, NASA's Kepler space telescope finally confirmed its first exoplanet, said scientists. The exoplanet dubbed Kepler-1658 b is a huge Jupiter-sized planet that circles around its prime star every 3.85 days, said researchers from the University of Hawaii in the US.

From the surface, the star would look 60 times bigger than the Sun in diameter as seen from our planet, scientists. Kepler has managed to locate thousands of exoplanets since its inception in 2009, using the transit method.

Kepler's data reveals planet candidates, but further analysis is a need in order to announce them as genuine planets, according to the study published in the Astronomical Journal. Despite being the first-ever planet candidate presented by the telescope in 2011, Kepler-1658 b took a lot of time to be confirmed.

Initially, the planet's host star's size was determined incorrectly, so the sizes of both the star and Kepler-1658 b were underestimated, researchers said.

"Our new analysis, which uses stellar sound waves observed in the Kepler data to characterize the host star, demonstrated that the star is, in fact, three times larger than previously thought," said University of Hawaii graduate student Ashley Chontos.

"This, in turn, means that the planet is three times larger, revealing that Kepler-1658 b is actually a hot Jupiter-like planet," Chontos said in a statement. Kepler-1658 is actually 50 percent bigger and three times larger than the Sun, the researchers said.

The planet orbits at a distance of only twice the star's diameter, which is closer than normal. Standing on the planet, the host star will appear 60 times larger in diameter compared to our Sun seen from Earth, the researchers said.

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