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Photons, not dollars, are a planet hunter’s fundamental currency, as they are what allow a planet to be not only detected but also subsequently characterized. Generally speaking, the more photons astronomers can gather from an exoplanetary system, the more they can learn about it. Stars and planets nearer to our solar system are brighter in our skies due to their close proximity, and hence more valuable, providing floods of useful photons where more distant objects would only offer trickles. This facet was why so many of Kepler’s small planets would struggle to reach a valuation of even a million dollars: the Kepler field stars were far away, and thus very dim. The brightest star visible in the solar system by many orders of magnitude is, of course, the Sun, which has the capacity to send local planetary valuations into truly astronomical territory.

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