It’s not often that a near-doubling of the planetary census arrives in one chunk, and so the paper detailing the latest Kepler results is of quite extraordinary interest.
It’s definitely going to be tricky to use the results in the Kepler paper to draw secure new conclusions about the true underlying distribution of planets. The results do, however look quite intriguing from the standpoint of back-of-the-envelope speculations.
Details: the paper contains a list of 312 candidate planets originating from 306 separate stars. A further 400 stars with candidate planets are held back, largely because they are either bright enough for high-quality Doppler follow-up at less-than-exorbitant cost, or harbor candidates with radii less than 1.5 that of Earth, or both. The paper states that the 312 candidate planets were primarily culled from an aggregate of 88,196 target stars dimmer than magnitude 14. The analysis is based on two blocks of photometry, one lasting 9.7 days (starting on May 2 2009) and one lasting 33.5 days (starting on May 13 2009).
The candidates have a slightly eclectic selection of associated data. The main table lists a radius, a transit epoch, and a period for each candidate. There’s information about the stars as ...