A new study suggests there are plenty more planets just like ours out there, suggesting we aren’t alone after all.
Having barely touched the tip of space exploration, we are still largely unaware of what is out there – let alone what’s beyond the power of any NASA probe, satellite, or telescope at our disposal.
However, recent research claims the Milky Way could in fact be home to many other inhabitable planets just like ours, when it comes to exploring the sun-like stars that could have small planets within each’s so-called ‘habitable zone’. The breakthrough claims these zones are just the right orbital distance where water has the potential to be stable on a planet’s surface.
The findings give a glimmer of hope to that age old question of whether it’s just us in the universe; reminding us that there are around 200 billion G dwarfs, aka balls of burning gas just like our sun, so the chances of some of them lighting up planets just like Earth is conceivable, Space.com reports.
But, just to illustrate how vast space is, the figure of 200 billion is only 7% of the Milky Way, as co-author of the study, Jeff Coughlin, shared the significant news, saying, ‘This is the first time that all of the pieces have been put together to provide a reliable measurement of the number of potentially habitable planets in the galaxy.’
Coughlin, an exoplanet researcher at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, also said, ‘This is a key term of the Drake Equation, used to estimate the number of communicable civilizations.’
The space expert, who is part of NASA’s Kepler Science Office where planetary data is gathered, revealed we are progressing to a point where research could seek out something beyond humanity, adding, ‘We’re one step closer on the long road to finding out if we’re alone in the cosmos.’
A 2020 team, led by Steve Bryson of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, has worked hard expanding on Kelper’s studies – which was in operation between 2009 and 2018, discovering more than 2,800 exoplanets to date – where the specialists have continued to sift through the data gathered in order to ‘vet’ the enormous amount of planetary potential on offer.
Bryson and his crew have also examined the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft’s stellar properties, in order to gain a better understanding as it painstakingly maps out a billions Milky Way stars.
With all that data, they’ve been able to predict the occurrence rates of these rocky planets – ones with diameters between 0.5 to 1.5 times that of Earth, and sun-like stars with similar temperatures – within the habitable zones of the stars.
When it comes to defining a habitable zone, however, the thickness and composition of its atmosphere is key, as is the activity and power of its host star, among a number of other intricate factors.
The short conclusion is that, after the latest data has been analysed, the chance of there being other life forms on planets like ours is slowly becoming more likely.
Star, Milky Way, Solar analog, Exoplanet, Planetary habitability
World news – GB – Half Of Sun-Like Stars In Milky Way Could Have Habitable Planet