Announcing Kepler-69c – a super-Earth-sized planet in or near the habitable zone of a Sun-like star

I’m about to do the press conference to announce this system but I wanted to make the paper available. The paper is available from here.

The press conference should be on NASA TV now.


A recording of the press conference can be found on the NASA UStream page. I’m not sure how long it will last there though.

I did a live interview with the BBC Radio 4 program The World Tonight. That interview can be found via this link – Radio 4 interview.

Does the IAU name exoplanets?

Recently the International Astronomical Union, IAU, put out a press release where they discussed the selling of planet names. I have some concerns about selling names and such but that is a separate point. What surprised me was that the IAU press release implied that there is an official naming scheme for exoplanets and that they manage it. I recently announced the discovery of three exoplanets and I don’t think I or anyone else on the team asked for permission from anyone to name them Kepler-37b, c and d. As far as I can tell, there is no official naming scheme for an exoplanet. Indeed, there isn’t even an official definition of what an exoplanet is.

What is it like to be a planet hunter?

Yesterday I spend the afternoon with a film crew from the CBS Sunday Morning News. I got interviewed by Barry Peterson who earlier this year was shot at in Syria. I’m not quite sure what a serious news journalist was doing talking to me but it was fun nevertheless.

They were asking about what it’s like to be a planet hunter. One of the questions they wanted me to answer was ‘What is it like to find a planet? Describe the emotions’. That’s actually a fairly difficult thing to do. There is not really a single moment when you discover something and it isn’t really an individual thing. Many, many people are involved in anything that comes out of a large project like Kepler. However, there were several points in my two recent papers (one a sub-Mercury-sized planet, the other I’m not meant to talk about yet but will come out on Thursday this week) where I got excited. The first was when flipping through the data you find something unusual or extraordinary. The second is when you find that no one else is on to this yet – its not already published and from what you can tell no one else is working on it. This is the spine-tingling moment.

However, after this initial excitement follows months of hard work and strife.  The time it takes to go from having an interesting candidate to having a finished paper can be many months. The week or two before a paper is submitted can be intense. Everyone wants the paper out right away. Long hours of writing and editing are generally required. After the paper is submitted the overwhelming emotion is relief. Relief that you can relax for a little while.

By the time the Kepler-37b paper came out I’d been working on the system for well over a year. I was no longer excited by the work because it was old news, not only to me but to everyone around me. I was more excited about moving onto other projects than talking to journalists.

Anyway, the interview with CBS will be shown on CBS Sunday Morning News with Charles Osgood on 21st April. I think the show will be on at 9.30am on the east coast but 6.30am pacific. Apparently, it should be posted online too.