8.8 billion planets like Earth


The Milky Way is very vast, but eventually we may not be as alone as we thought. A recent study shows that our galaxy hosts many planets of approximately the same magnitude as the Earth, orbiting around stars similar to the Sun and found in the so-called "Goldilocks area," a space too hot or too cold for can fulfill the necessary conditions for life.

Astronomers have calculated for the first time, with NASA's Kepler telescope, that only in our galaxy there are over 8.8 billion Earth-like planets in a life-friendly area. The study was published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science". That would mean that there are 8.8 billion chances that one of these planets will host life, that is, more likely than the current Earth population: "It means that only in the Milky Way is about 8.8 billion throws of the biological dice," said Geoffrey Marcy, one of the authors of the study.

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Researchers say the next step will be to examine the atmospheres of these planets with the help of very powerful telescopes that will be built in the near future. They will provide information about their life-saving potential. "This discovery also raises the following question: if we are not alone in the galaxy, then why is this pressing silence from potential advanced civilizations?" Says Geoffrey Marcy.

According to observations made with the Kepler telescope (now disbanded) for four years, in the Milky Way, one in five stars is similar to the Sun in size, color and age. Also around them are Earth-sized planets that are in a favorable area of ​​life. For the first time, scientists have calculated, not estimated, how many of the Sun-like stars have Earth-like planets: 22%, with an error rate of 8%. This percentage is still provisional because there is still a lot of data to analyze. "There are around 200 billion stars in our galaxy, of which 40-50 billion Sun-like, meaning 8.8 billion stars could have planets. According to these results, the nearest planet of this kind could be at a distance of 70 trillion miles from Terra, "said Geoffrey Marcy.

A previous study found that 15% of red dwarfs have Earth-like planets located in the Goldilocks area. "If we collect all these figures, we have a total of approximately 40 billion planets of the right size and located in areas favorable to life," concluded Marcy.
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