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The results of a new analysis of Kepler data show that one in six stars has an Earth-sized planet in a tight orbit.
This artist's illustration represents the variety of planets being detected by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Francois Fressin, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), presented the analysis today in a press conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif. The research team found that 50 percent of all stars have a planet of Earth-size or larger in a close orbit. Extrapolating from Kepler's currently ongoing observations and results from other detection techniques, scientists have determined that nearly all sun-like stars have planets. Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets orbiting in or near the habitable zone of the host star.
The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. To read more about the discovery, see the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics press release.


About a fourth of all stars in the Milky Way have a super-Earth, and the same fraction have a mini-Neptune. A new analysis has determined the frequencies of planets of all sizes, from Earths up to gas giants.
A paper detailing the research has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. By adding larger planets detected in wider orbits up to the orbital distance of the Earth, this number increases to 70 percent. NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is the home organization of the science principal investigator, and is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations, and science data analysis.
Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters. Only about 3 percent of stars have a large Neptune, and only 5 percent a gas giant at the orbital distances studied. Key findings include the fact that one in six stars hosts an Earth-sized planet in an orbit of 85 days or less, and that almost all sun-like stars have a planetary system of some sort.


In particular, Kepler's extended mission will enable the detection of Earth-sized planets at greater distances, including Earth-like orbits in the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Aguilar (CfA) The quest to determine if planets like Earth are rare or common is taking another stride forward on the journey. Using NASA's Kepler spacecraft, managed by NASA Ames Research Center, astronomers are beginning to find Earth-sized planets orbiting distant stars. A new analysis of Kepler data shows that about 17 percent of stars have an Earth-sized planet in an orbit closer than Mercury.
Since the Milky Way has about 100 billion stars, there are at least 17 billion Earth-sized worlds out there.



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