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There are billions of planets just like ours

About 4.4 billion planets are similar to Earth in size and temperature, suggesting they may be able to host life, according to a survey of the galaxy using telescopes operating in space and on the ground.

The number is an estimate based on information taken from 42,000 stars similar to the Earth’s sun and their surrounding planets by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Kepler Space Telescope, as well as telescopes in Hawaii. Ideal planet climate -- not too hot or too cold -- was determined by how far they were away from their stars, according to the report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists, including Geoffrey Marcy at the University of California at Berkeley, used those findings to extrapolate how many similar planets might exist across the galaxy. That number suggests Earth may not be so unique after all, he said.

“The New York Stock Exchange will not budge a penny at the news about Earth-like planets,” Marcy wrote in an e-mail. “Still, all of humanity is richer. The discovery of Earth-like planets puts our beautiful home planet into a cosmic perspective and gives us knowledge about our place in our galactic community.”

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