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Earth appears to be an oddity, astronomers say

Published on Jan 7, 2014 6:34 AM

SHERIDAN WASHINGTON (AFP) - Astronomers call them super-Earths, and they are abundant outside our solar system. But the more experts learn about them, the weirder our own planet seems in comparison.

Planets the size of Earth and up to four times larger are believed to make up about three-quarters of the planet candidates discovered by Nasa's Kepler spacecraft.

Astronomers have eagerly catalogued some 3,000 of these planets in the hopes that they may point to the existence of life elsewhere in the galaxy.

But experts told a meeting of the American Astronomical Society outside the US capital on Monday that while super-Earths and mini-Neptunes are common, they bear little resemblance to the planet we call home.

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