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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.”

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