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May 11 2013

Our Solar System: Rare Species in Cosmic Zoo


Pulling from 20 years of research since the first discoveries of planets beyond our solar system, scientists have concluded that Earth and its sibling worlds comprise what appears to be a relatively rare breed in a diverse cosmic zoo that includes a huge variety of planet sizes, orbits and parent stars.

The most common systems contain one or more planets one to three times bigger than Earth, all orbiting much closer to their parent stars than Earth circles the sun, says astronomer Andrew Howard, with the University of Hawaii.

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