Still no Earths, but getting closer

Two newly discovered planetary systems shed light on odds of forming terrestrial planets

By Ron Cowen, 12:45 PM August 31, 2010

Only a few years ago, astronomers were thrilled if they found a star beyond the solar system harboring a single planet. Now they’re discovering more and more multiple-planet systems that may offer new clues about the formation of planets and their evolution.

In one new study, scientists have discovered a star with at least five and as many as seven planets, which would make it the richest known planetary retinue beyond the solar system. A second study has revealed a star with two Saturn-mas...

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