NASA has announced the Kepler space telescope has identified 219 potential new exoplanet candidates - and 10 could be habitable.
Scientists at NASA's Ames Research Centre in California on Monday revealed the "most reliable" catalogue yet of potential planets in the galaxy, bringing the total to 4034.
According to the scientists, over 2300 planets spotted during the Kepler & K2 missions have been confirmed so far, including 50 terrestrial-sized planets that lie in the "Goldilocks Zone" of their star.
Of the 219 new planet candidates, 10 are near-Earth size and orbiting in their star's habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.
"This carefully measured catalogue is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy's most compelling questions - how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?" said Susan Thompson, a research scientist at the SETI Institute, which searches for signs of extraterrestrial life.
That's correct. For every one that we detect, there are 100 - 200 others out there. We account for that when studying demographics. https://t.co/krPu2za5uI— NASA Kepler and K2 (@NASAKepler) June 19, 2017 pt async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8">
NASA said in a statement: "There are now 4034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. Of which, 2335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified.
"Additionally, results using Kepler data suggest two distinct size groupings of small planets. Both results have significant implications for the search for life."