Latest Issue of Science News


Planets as common as stars in Milky Way

Analysis suggests a galaxy riddled with worlds

When you turn an eye to the evening sky, there’s a good chance that many of the stars above have at least one planet.

Using six years of data from planet-finding surveys, an international team of researchers concludes that, on average, every star in the Milky Way is accompanied by 1.6 planets. That’s at least 100 billion planets, the scientists report January 12 in Nature.

The figure might seem enormous, but it doesn’t shock planet hunters. “I’m not surprised by this result,” says astrophysicist Wesley Traub of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who was not involved in the study. “This sounds reasonable. This sounds good.”

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.