posted on Aug, 21 2012 @ 05:51 AM
We've not even scratched the surface yet on how many planets we will find.
By that I don't just mean the number of planets in total but more so the number of planets around individual stars.
Look at the data from Kepler and other sources, most of the planets found have orbital periods far shorter than Mercury, many of them less than 10
days meaning they are unbelievably close to their host star.
These are the vast majority of planets being found at present simply because they pass in front of their host star many times in one "Earth Year" so
the telltale signature of the stars light "dipping" can be spotted easier.
But what about planets with orbits of many Earth years? Neptune for example has not even completed one orbit around the sun since it's discovery, if
we were looking back at our own solar system from another star we'd never spot Neptune yet as it would need to at least pass in front of the sun
twice so that the data can be confirmed. planets with long orbits like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune are going to take a lot longer to be
discovered because they will pass in front of their own star "relative to us" maybe only once a decade or longer, much longer in many cases. Then
what about stars where the planetary ecliptic plane is "side on" to us? Planets orbiting these stars will never pass in front of the host star
relative to us so we'll have to spot them using another technique.
Only when we have the ability to easily discover planets directly without the need to see a dip in the host stars light will we really get a picture
of how common planets are around stars.
Kepler 11 is already up to letter "g" meaning the system has 6 confirmed planets (b,c,d,e,f,g), I personally believe we will discover that our Solar
System of 8 known planets will be the norm or below average for the number of planets in a single system, if Kepler 11 already has 6 how many more are
on long orbits so have not been found yet?
I am so excited about planet hunting because we are living in a time when "in my opinion" it is already showing us how "normal" our solar system
is and that planets orbiting stars is common and this will lead to us answering the question of whether or not we are alone in the universe once and
for all. When that time comes I cannot wait to tell a few people "I told you so".