1,200 New Potential Planets Found

A NASA telescope counting planets in one neighborhood of the Milky Way registered more than 1,200 candidates, including 54 in life-friendly orbits around their parent stars.

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, after just four months of work, shows that small planets like Earth are much more prevalent than Jupiter-sized worlds and that multiple-planet systems are common. "We think we're seeing about 200 multi-planet systems," astronomer Daniel Fabrycky, with the University of California, Santa Cruz, told Discovery News. "That really blew us away. We didn't expect that this would be one of Kepler's discoveries." The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified so far by Kepler to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size.