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UBC student discovers 17 new planets, including potentially habitable, Earth-sized world

Research Excellence | Strategy 8: Student Research
Theme: Innovation
Michelle Kunimoto has discovered 17 new exoplanets.

UBC Physics and Astronomy Ph.D. candidate Michelle Kunimoto has discovered 17 new planets, including a potentially habitable, Earth-sized world, by combing through data gathered by NASA’s Kepler mission.

Over its original four-year mission, the Kepler satellite looked for planets, especially those that lie in the “Habitable Zones” of their stars, where liquid water could exist on a rocky planet’s surface.

The new findings, published in the Astronomical Journal, include one such, particularly rare planet. Officially named KIC-7340288 b, the planet discovered by Kunimoto is just 1-½ times the size of Earth – small enough to be considered rocky, instead of gaseous like the giant planets of the Solar System – and in the habitable zone of its star.

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UBC’s Strategic Plan has a focus on how the university is helping students to engage in research to help build and apply their learning and create new knowledge. Read more about Strategy 8: Student Research.