Billions Of Earth-Size Planets Fill The Milky Way

LONG BEACH, Calif. (January 7, 2013)--Astronomers estimate one in six stars the our Milky Way galaxy has a planet the size of Earth orbiting it, which translates to at least 17 billion Earth-size planets.

That doesn't mean these planets are all habitable, but it's an encouraging sign for scientists hunting for worlds like Earth.

Two independent groups came up with similar estimates after a fresh analysis of data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft, launched in 2009 to track down other Earths and the findings were presented Monday at the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, Calif.

The goal has long been to discover a planet similar in size to Earth that's located in the so-called Goldilocks zone, a place that's not too hot and not too cold, where water might exist in liquid form.

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