It works by using the host star and its putative planets as a lens. The gravitational field of the host solar system magnifies the light of a star in the background. If the host star does have a planet, the planet essentially widens the lens, and this is an effect that can be measured. Such an alignment is incredibly rare, so an international team of researchers examined 100 million stars every night and noted ones with promising light curve amplifications, examining them in higher resolution. From 2002 to 2007, the team observed 500 such stars. In 10 cases, they could directly see the lensing effect of a planet. A statistical analysis showed one in six of the stars studied hosts a planet of similar mass to Jupiter, half have Neptune-mass planets and two thirds have super-Earths. Combining the results suggests that the average number of planets around a star is greater than one, the astronomers say in a new Nature paper.