For example, you can use some statistics to extrapolate how many planets there must be in our galaxy. A new study has done just that, and the number they get is stunning: they calculate there may be a hundred billion planets in the Milky Way, with 17 billion of them the size of Earth!
First, let me point out that previous studies have gotten roughly the same numbers (for example, recently my pal John Johnson of Caltech was part of an announcement that the number of planets in the Milky Way was around a hundred billion, using one star and its system of five planets as a basis; it’s solid work). This new study is important because it uses more data and analyzes it more robustly than most previous work.
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