The Milky Way contains at least 100 billion planets, or enough to have one for each of its stars, and many of them are likely to be capable of supporting conditions favorable to life, according to a new estimate from scientists at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California (Caltech).Carl Franzen's got more at TPM.
That specific figure of 100 billion planets has been suggested by earlier, separate studies, but the new analysis corroborates the earlier numbers and may even add to them, as it was conducted on a single star system — Kepler 32 — which contains five planets and is located some 1,000 light years away from Earth in between the patch of sky found between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, where NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope is pointed.
In fact, the new star census estimate, which came after scientists verified three of the five planets around the star Kepler 32, is strictly conservative, according to the Caltech astronomers who developed it after studying the Kepler 32 system.
"There's room for these numbers to really grow," said Jonathan Swift, a Caltech astronomer who is the lead author on a paper on the new findings, in a phone interview with TPM. "They're not going to shrink. Our calculation is new in the sense that we are making the calculation of planets in compact systems around the most populous type of stars in the galaxy."
Posted by Melissa McEwan at Thursday, January 03, 2013
Milky Way Contains At Least 100 Billion Planets, New Analysis Finds: