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Kepler uncovers planetary menagerie

Today NASA’s Kepler mission announced the discovery of 26 new planets (above, green). The new worlds, comparable to the giant planets of our solar system (blue), nearly double the number of planets previously discovered by the probe (red), but it’s probably only a small taste of what’s to come. Kepler looks at 150,000 distant stars and searches for tiny changes in brightness as a planet passes by. So far, the probe has turned up 2,300 planet candidates. Confirming a planet is far more difficult, but Kepler has managed to verify the new worlds announced today by measuring slight changes in 


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