Artist's impression of a super-Earth
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Super-Earths likely 'in the billions'

There could be many billions of planets not much bigger than Earth circling faint stars in our galaxy, says an international team of astronomers.

The estimate for the number of "super-Earths" is based on detections already made and then extrapolated to include the Milky Way's population of so-called red dwarf stars.

The team uses the high-precision Harps instrument on the 3.6m telescope at the Silla Observatory in Chile. Team member Stephane Udry told the BBC'S Science In Action programme how Harps works.

  • 28 Mar 2012