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Observations

Earth-Like Planets Fill the Galaxy

Kepler telescope

LONG BEACH, Calif.—Look up on a starry night. Almost every one of those tiny pricks of light is home to an unseen world. Our Milky Way galaxy is full of planets—100 billion or more—and many of those planets are Earth-like rocks (although our solar system still appears to be an oddball). Such are the major [...]

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Observations

Hope for Future Discoveries Both Near and Far at the American Astronomical Society Meeting

Pan-STARRS telescope

Late Wednesday night I bumped into an old friend on the subway. It was past 11:00, and she, an actress, was returning from a party at the home of her movement teacher at which each attendee was asked to bring a short performance piece as a gift for the host. I, a science writer, was [...]

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Observations

Why don’t exoplanets match astronomers’ expectations? A dispatch from the American Astronomical Society meeting

Kepler 10 b, a rocky exoplanet

SEATTLE—The most exhilarating science conference I’ve ever been to took place in San Antonio 15 years ago this week, when planet hunters Geoff Marcy and Paul Butler announced they had found two planets orbiting sunlike stars beyond our solar system. Coming a couple of months after another team, led by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, [...]

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