Artist rendering of a planet orbiting dwarf star
Astronomers have discovered 37 new objects this year

The world's leading team of planet-hunting astronomers announced the discovery of 28 new exoplanets, increasing the number of known exoplanets to 236.  University of California, Berkeley researchers announced the discovery, with the findings coming from research conducted by California and Carnegie Planet Search and the Anglo-Australian Planet Search teams.  The discovery was revealed during the annual American Astronomers Society meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"We added 12 percent to the total in the last year, and we're very proud of that," said Jason Wright, University of California, Berkeley post-doctoral fellow.

The Earth's solar system is far from unique, and it is possible there could be billions of habitable planets -- many of which have obviously not been identified.  

Researchers were especially excited about a planet which orbits a star much like Earth's sun, and is located only 30 light-years away.  While most of the exoplanets discovered were originally detected by the wobble their gravity causes, the one around Gliese 436 crosses directly in front of its star when viewed from Earth.      

Astronomers from around the world have discovered as many as 37 new objects in the past year.  Each new object orbits a star, but is smaller than it.  As many as seven of the objects are brown dwarfs, meaning they are stars larger than Jupiter-sized planets -- two others are borderline, meaning they can be small brown dwarfs or larger gas giants.

Researchers keep track of discovered exoplanets on the California and Carnegie Planet Search team web site, which can be found by clicking here.

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