The Milky Way is awash in planets by the billions, and astronomers are finding more every day. There is a tiny solar system way out there with three planets smaller than Earth, and at least three other newly found ones with a single planet flying around two suns at once.
Now an international team of astronomers calculates that there must be more than 10 billion rocky planets the size of Earth [just] within the Milky Way [our immediate collection of stars]. There are perhaps even more if planets of all kinds were counted -- small ones, big ones, and "gas giants" bigger than Jupiter.
Scientists this week reported fresh results from NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas. And two other groups are reporting online in the journal Nature that their calculations show there must be far more Earth-size planets than bloated Jupiter-size ones. More
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