These most recent exoplanets were spotted using Nasa's Kepler space telescope, now in orbit around the Earth. Mayo and his colleagues analyzed hundreds of signals of potential exoplanets to determine which signals were created by exoplanets and which were caused by other sources. This solution paved the way for the follow up K2 mission, which is still ongoing as the spacecraft searches for exoplanet transits. This was published in Astronomical Journal thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope, aka K2.
"There are no surprises, per se, but it's a great new haul of planets, and plenty of fodder for exploring the individual systems within the catalog", Jessie Christiansen, an astronomer at NASA's Exoplanet Archive who was not involved with the study, told Newsweek by email.
The original Kepler mission began in 2009 when the space observatory was launched into orbit around the Earth to hunt for new exoplanets in a particular patch of the sky. The instrument was repurposed following that failure (and the new mission was named K2), changing the region of space it's observing every few months and picking up brighter and closer planets and stars.
After detecting the first exoplanets in the 1990s, it has become clear that planets around other stars are the rule rather than the exception. For four years, the spacecraft stared continuously at about 150,000 stars, looking for tiny dips in their brightness caused by the passage of planets across their faces.
Mayo has stated that it's hard to determine if these 100 new planets were actually planets, saying, "We found that some of the signals were caused by multiple star systems or noise from the spacecraft".
Simply defined, an exoplanet is a planet that orbits another star, but they are not easy to validate.
And this is truly important - if we discover other planets, astronomers will get a better idea of what's in there, and what's the nature of those planets and things will be put in perspective. This ability to salvage the telescope allowed for the launch of the K2 mission which recently discovered 100 new planets.
It's a major breakthrough that reveals new planets that range in size from smaller than Earth to celestial bodies even bigger than Jupiter.
Since the first exoplanet was discovered in 1995, about 3,600 exoplanets have been found, ranging from rocky Earth-sized planets to large gas giants like Jupiter.
Mayo and his team are understandably excited about the discovery of these 100 new planets and their implications for the future of the field.