Billions of Earthlike Planets Crowd Milky Way?

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Each star in the Milky Way (pictured) has its own Earthlike planet, astronomers say.
(image by Photograph by Justin Ng, Your Shot)
Tens of billions of Earthlike worlds are strewn across the Milky Way, many of them circling stars very much like our own sun, astronomers said today. To find planets, Kepler stares at a patch of sky in the constellation Cygnus, made up of about 150,000 stars. Using their own independent software for analyzing Kepler's potential planet detections, Fressin and his colleagues estimate that about 17 percent, or one in six, of all the sunlike stars in the Milky Way host a rocky planet that orbits closer than the distance at which Mercury orbits our own sun. Since the Milky Way is home to about a hundred billion stars, that means there are at least 17 billion rocky worlds out there. When the team expanded their search to Earth-size orbits or larger, they found that half of all sunlike stars may host rocky planets.

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