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Strange New Worlds by Ray Jayawardhana

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Afterword to the Paperback Edition

Since this book first came out in the spring of 2011, the pace of exoplanet discovery has continued unabated. Findings from telescopes in space, especially Kepler, and on the ground make media headlines on a regular basis. As the tally of extrasolar planetary systems grows, so do their astonishing diversity and the prospects of finding worlds that could harbor conditions suitable for life.

Of the first 2,300 planet candidates revealed by Kepler, some two hundred are Earth-size or smaller, while another seven hundred would qualify as “super-Earths” with radii less than twice that of our planet. These numbers confirm that small planets are quite common indeed. Of course, Earth-size does not necessarily mean Earth-like. ...

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