February 15, 2009
Study Suggests Galaxy Has Billions Of Earth-Like Planets
There might be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, US scientists announced at a recent press conference.
Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science stated that maybe a few of these could have simple life forms living on them.
Boss announced this at the yearly meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. Thus far, telescopes have found 300 planets outside our solar system.
However, only a few would be able to support life. The majority of them are gas giants like Jupiter; and a few orbit so closely to other stars that any life would have to endure scorching temperatures.
However, because so many of these planets were found, Boss thinks that each star has at least one "Earth-like" planet.
"Not only are they probably habitable but they probably are also going to be inhabited," Boss said to BBC News. "But I think that most likely the nearby 'Earths' are going to be inhabited with things which are perhaps more common to what Earth was like three or four billion years ago."
Boss guesses that NASA's Kepler mission, launching in March, will discover these Earth-like planets in the following years.
Also, work at Edinburgh University is trying to estimate the number of intellectual civilizations that may exist. The study suggested there could be quite a few of them.
Image Caption: Artist's concept of the star Fomalhaut and the Jupiter-type planet that the Hubble Space Telescope observed. A ring of debris appears to surround Fomalhaut as well. The planet, called Fomalhaut b, orbits the 200-million-year-old star every 872 years. Credit: ESA, NASA, and L. Calcada (ESO for STScI)
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