Discovering strange new worlds

By Rebecca Priestley In Science

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When I was a kid, the universe had nine planets and I knew each one by name. Today, there are more than 900 confirmed planets, with a new study just published in the Astrophysical Journal (July 10) estimating there are more than 60 billion habitable-zone planets in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. Early astronomers found the first planets in our solar system using naked-eye observations. Today, astronomers use telescopes, cameras, spectrographs and computers to detect planets orbiting stars up to 20,000 light years away. The first extrasolar planet was found in 1995, when a giant planet was ...

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