NASA has announced that its Kepler space observatory has found 1,284 new exoplanets, including roughly 550 Earth-sized ones. Of these, nine may orbit their star in the habitable zone or at a distance at which water is expected to be in liquid form but not too hot to evaporate.
Commenting on the discovery, Andrew Norton, Professor of Astrophysics Education at The Open University, writes:
“The latest announcement is an impressive piece of work, and the discovery of so many new exoplanets is stunning. It is increasingly clear that planets orbit stars as a rule – not an exception. While astronomers still haven’t found an exact twin of the Earth, the rapid pace of discoveries is surely a sign that it is just a matter of time until they do.”