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Space & Planetary Science

Planets Are Common – Everywhere

By Keith Cowing
January 11, 2012
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The Milky Way Contains At Least 100 Billion Planets According to Survey
“Our Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets according to a detailed statistical study based on the detection of three extrasolar planets by an observational technique called microlensing. Kailash Sahu, of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., is part of an international team reporting today that our galaxy contains a minimum of one planet for every star on average. This means that there should be a minimum of 1,500 planets within just 50 light-years of Earth.”
A Wealth of Habitable Planets in the Milky Way
“Our results show that planets orbiting around stars are more the rule than the exception. In a typical solar system approximately four planets have their orbits in the terrestrial zone, which is the distance from the star where you can find solid planets. On average, there are 1.6 planets in the area around the stars that corresponds to the area between Venus and Saturn.”
Kepler Discovery Establishes New Class of Planetary Systems
“Using data from NASA’s Kepler Mission, astronomers announced the discovery of two new transiting “circumbinary” planet systems — planets that orbit two stars. This work establishes that such “two sun” planets are not rare exceptions, but are in fact common with many millions existing in our Galaxy.”
Discovery of the Smallest Exoplanets: The Barnard’s Star Connection
“The discovery of the three smallest planets yet orbiting a distant star, which was announced today at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, has an unusual connection to Barnard’s star, one of the Sun’s nearest neighbors. .. The team used data from NASA’s Kepler mission combined with additional observations of a single star, called KOI-961, to determine that it possesses three planets that range in size from 0.57 to 0.78 times the radius of Earth. This makes them the smallest of the more than 700 exoplanets confirmed to orbit other stars.”

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.