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The Sciences

Planets of the Milky Way

The roster of exoplanets more than doubles.

By Eric BetzDecember 20, 2016 6:00 AM
milky-way.jpg
Wikimedia Commons

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A new look at data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope added 1,284 worlds to the exoplanet zoo in 2016, bringing the instrument’s total confirmed number to 2,591. Those planets range from the tiny to true behemoths, but most exciting is that more Earth-sized and other smallish worlds are emerging, providing new hope for life in the cosmos.

earth-chart.jpg
Alison Mackey/Discover. Planets large to small: NASA/GSFC/S. Wiessinger; NASA/ESA/M. Kornmesser; NASA/GSFC/S. Wiessinger; NASA/JPL; NASA/ESA/A. Feild/G. Bacon (STScI); NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle; NASA Ames/JPL-CalTech; SETI Institute/Danielle Futselaar

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