8.8 billion habitable Earth-size planets exist in Milky Way alone

(I shared similar news months and months ago- I guess they are desensitizing the hold outs for the upcoming reveal?)  ~Cosmic Love

Seth Borenstein         The Associated Press

AP Photo/ NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech
This artist’s rendition provided by NASA shows Kepler-69c, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, located about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Astronomers using NASA data calculate that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion Earth-sized planets that are not too hot or not too cold and circle stars that are just like our sun, according to a study published Monday.

WASHINGTON — Space is  vast, but it may not be so lonely after all: A study finds the Milky Way is  teeming with billions of planets that are about the size of Earth, orbit stars  just like our sun, and exist in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot and not too  cold for life.
kepler planets2
Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first  time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with  Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.

The study was  published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For perspective, that’s more Earth-like planets than there are people on  Earth.

As for what it says about the odds that there is life somewhere  out there, it means “just in our Milky Way galaxy alone, that’s 8.8 billion  throws of the biological dice,” said study co-author Geoff Marcy, a longtime  planet hunter from the University of California at Berkeley.

The next  step, scientists say, is to look for atmospheres on these planets with powerful  space telescopes that have yet to be launched. That would yield further clues to  whether any of these planets do, in fact, harbor life.

The findings also  raise a blaring question, Marcy said: If we aren’t alone, why is “there a  deafening silence in our Milky Way galaxy from advanced civilizations?”

In the Milky Way, about 1 in 5 stars that are like our sun in size,  color and age have planets that are roughly Earth’s size and are in the  habitable zone where life-crucial water can be liquid, according to intricate  calculations based on four years of observations from NASA’s now-crippled Kepler  telescope.

If people on Earth could only travel in deep space, “you’d  probably see a lot of traffic jams,” Bill Borucki, NASA’s chief Kepler  scientist, joked Monday.

The Kepler telescope peered at 42,000 stars,  examining just a tiny slice of our galaxy to see how many planets like Earth are  out there. Scientists then extrapolated that figure to the rest of the galaxy,  which has hundreds of billions of stars.

For the first time, scientists  calculated — not estimated — what percent of stars that are just like our sun  have planets similar to Earth: 22 percent, with a margin of error of plus or  minus 8 percentage points.

Kepler scientist Natalie Batalha said there  is still more data to pore over before this can be considered a final figure.

There are about 200 billion stars in our galaxy, with 40 billion of them  like our sun, Marcy said. One of his co-authors put the number of sun-like stars  closer to 50 billion, meaning there would be at least 11 billion planets like  ours.

Based on the 1-in-5 estimate, the closest Earth-size planet that  is in the habitable temperature zone and circles a sun-like star is probably  within 70 trillion miles of Earth, Marcy said.

And the 8.8 billion  Earth-size planets figure is only a start. That’s because scientists were  looking only at sun-like stars, which are not the most common stars.

An  earlier study found that 15 percent of the more common red dwarf stars have  Earth-size planets that are close-in enough to be in the not-too-hot,  not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone.

Put those together and that’s probably 40  billion right-size, right-place planets, Marcy said.

And that’s just our  galaxy. There are billions of other galaxies.

Scientists at a Kepler  science conference Monday said they have found 833 new candidate planets with  the space telescope, bringing the total of planets they’ve spotted to 3,538, but  most aren’t candidates for life.

Kepler has identified only 10 planets  that are about Earth’s size circling sun-like stars and are in the habitable  zone, including one called Kepler 69-c.

Because there are probably  hundreds of planets missed for every one found, the study did intricate  extrapolations to come up with the 22 percent figure — a calculation that  outside scientists say is fair.

“Everything they’ve done looks  legitimate,” said MIT astronomer Sara Seager.


© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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2 Responses to “8.8 billion habitable Earth-size planets exist in Milky Way alone”

  1. gregdougall Says:

    C’mon guys, share this with everyone! This is NASA and the Associated Press coming out with support for us and our material.

  2. 8.8 billion habitable Earth-size planets exist in Milky Way alone | Awakening to the DIVINE Says:

    […] https://gregdougall.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/8-8-billion-habitable-earth-size-planets-exist-in-milky-… […]

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