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Planet search finds lots of little guys

Prospects for abundant Earthlike worlds keep improving

1:09pm, September 13, 2011

Planet hunters have unlocked a treasure chest of alien worlds to reveal more than 50 newly discovered planets, including at least 16 not much bigger than Earth and one small, sparkling nugget: a 3.6-Earth-mass planet, parked just inside its star’s life-friendly zone.

“We can say that most of the stars have planets, and most of them have low-mass planets,” says astronomer Francesco Pepe, a member of the Geneva Observatory’s HARPS team that presented their new finds September 12 during the Extreme Solar Systems conference in Moran, Wyoming. HARPS finds distant worlds by focusin

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