This handout artist conception provided by NASA depicts multiple-transiting planet systems, which are stars with more than one planet
The Earth's galaxy is looking far more crowded. NASA has confirmed a bonanza of 715 newly discovered planets outside the solar system. Scientists using the planet-hunting Kepler telescope have nearly doubled the number of planets discovered in the galaxy. The figure is now about 1,700. Twenty years ago, astronomers had not found any planets circling stars other than the sun.
Astronomers used a new confirmation technique to come up with the largest batch of planets announced at one time. NASA made the announcement Wednesday. All the new planets are in systems like ours where multiple planets circle a star. Four of those new planets are in habitable zones where it is not too hot and not too cold.
As awesome and wonderful as these discoveries are, we still have no means of getting there and may not invent a means of travelling across light years for centuries. So don't pack your bags and cancel your newspaper just yet. However, I find it reassuring that this is not the only planet that may support life. Have you ever contemplated life existing out there? Does that frighten you?