The scientists analyzed Kepler-32′s structure, compared it with other planetary systems discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope and sat down to do some math. The result: an estimate that the Milky Way is home to at least 100 billion planets.
"It's a staggering number, if you think about it," Caltech astronomer Jonathan Swift, said in a news release on the research.
"Basically there's one of these planets per star," he said.
"It's like unlocking a language - the language of planet formation," added John Johnson, an assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech.
Interestingly, another team of astronomers last January came up with the same estimate using a different database and different technique. What spurred that team's work was an original estimate by Kepler scientists in 2010 that the Milky Way had at least 50 billion planets.