The estimate for the number of "super-Earths" is based on detections already made and then extrapolated to include the Milky Way's population of so-called red dwarf stars.
The team works with the high-precision Harps instrument.
This is fitted to the 3.6m telescope at the Silla Observatory in Chile.
Harps employs an indirect method of detection that infers the existence of orbiting planets from the way their gravity makes a parent star appear to twitch in its motion across the sky.
Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 09 June 2012 - 01:26 PM.