Kepler released most of the first little bit of data today.
306 new candidate exoplanets, with 5 multiple transiting systems – ie stars with more than one planet transiting them.
The really interesting systems though are the 400 objects that the Kepler team got permission to withhold, and the data on which will be released later.
Statistically 100+ of those ought to be real planets, and probably the most interesting of all the exoplanets they found.
There is a story there.
William J. Borucki, for the Kepler Team
In the spring of 2009 the Kepler Mission conducted high precision photometry on nearly 156,000 stars to detect the frequency and characteristics of small exoplanets. On 15 June 2010 the Kepler Mission released data on all but 400 of the ~156,000 planetary target stars to the public. At the time of this publication, 706 targets from this first data set have viable exoplanet candidates with sizes as small as that of the Earth to larger than that of Jupiter. Here we give the identity and characteristics of 306 of the 706 targets. The released targets include 5 candidate multi-planet systems. Data for the remaining 400 targets with planetary candidates will be released in February 2011. The Kepler results based on the candidates in the released list imply that most candidate planets have radii less than half that of Jupiter.
We present and discuss five candidate exoplanetary systems identified with the Kepler spacecraft. These five systems show transits from multiple exoplanet candidates. Should these objects prove to be planetary in nature, then these five systems open new opportunities for the field of exoplanets and provide new insights into the formation and dynamical evolution of planetary systems. We discuss the methods used to identify multiple transiting objects from the Kepler photometry as well as the false-positive rejection methods that have been applied to these data. One system shows transits from three distinct objects while the remaining four systems show transits from two objects. Three systems have planet candidates that are near mean motion commensurabilities – two near 2:1 and one just outside 5:2. We discuss the implications that multitransiting systems have on the distribution of orbital inclinations in planetary systems, and hence their dynamical histories; as well as their likely masses and chemical compositions. A Monte Carlo study indicates that, with additional data, most of these systems should exhibit detectable transit timing variations (TTV) due to gravitational interactions – though none are apparent in these data. We also discuss new challenges that arise in TTV analyses due to the presence of more than two planets in a system.