NASA announces motherlode of new planets

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Planet Bonanza

This handout artist conception provided by NASA depicts multiple-transiting planet systems, which are stars with more than one planet. The planets eclipse or transit their host star from the vantage point of the observer. This angle is called edge-on. Our galaxy is looking far more crowded as NASA Wednesday confirmed a bonanza of 715 newly discovered planets circling stars other than our sun. Four of those new planets are in the habitable zones where it is not too hot or not cold. NASA's Kepler planet-hunting telescope nearly doubled the number of planets scientists have discovered in the galaxy, pushing the figure to about 1,700. Twenty years ago, astronomers had not found any planets outside our solar system. (AP Photo/NASA)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Our galaxy is looking far more crowded. NASA has confirmed a bonanza of 715 newly discovered planets outside our solar system.

Scientists using the planet-hunting Kepler telescope have nearly doubled the number of planets discovered in the galaxy. The figure is now about 1,700. Twenty years ago, astronomers had not found any planets circling stars other than our sun.

Astronomers used a new confirmation technique to come up with the largest batch of planets announced at one time. NASA made the announcement Wednesday.

All the new planets are in systems like ours where multiple planets circle a star. Four of those new planets are in habitable zones where it is not too hot or not cold.

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