NASA’s official exoplanet count more than doubles

(Photo courtesy of NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Milky Way has just gotten a lot more crowded — with planets.

NASA announced Tuesday that the Kepler Space Telescope has validated 1,284 worlds orbiting stars outside our solar system — called exoplanets. That’s on top of the 984 previously confirmed exoplanets detected by Kepler.

A statistical analysis led by Princeton University researcher Timothy Morton resulted in this huge new batch of planets, the biggest yet. And there are sure to be more. Princeton’s method puts the likelihood of true planethood at 99 percent.

Of the 1,284 newly verified planets, nearly 550 of them could be Earth-sized and rocky. Of those, nine appear to orbit in the habitable zone of their stars.

Scientists say it’s a first step in determining whether we are, indeed, alone in the universe. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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