Astronomers see more planets than stars in galaxy

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WASHINGTON (AP) ? Astronomers now think planets outnumber stars in our galaxy. And they’ve only begun to count.

Thanks to powerful telescopes and a better understanding of different solar systems scientists are finding new places to look for life beyond Earth.

Three studies released Wednesday shed new light on the diversity of planetary systems. One of the studies estimates that our Milky Way galaxy averages at least 1.6 large planets per star. The Milky Way has an estimated 100 billion stars.

Also, scientists once thought systems with two stars were just too chaotic to include planets. But so far astronomers have found three different systems where planets have two suns. Just a few years ago that idea seemed to be the stuff of science fiction seen only in Luke Skywalker’s realm.