Study Shows Most Earth-Like Planets Haven't Been Born Yet
Could there be billions more Earth-like planets by the end of the universe? A new theoretical study from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) claims that Earth was one of the first habitable worlds ever to arise in our universe, and that 92% of them have yet to be born.
10 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang, stars were forming at a rapid rate. The process is much slower now, but all in all only a fraction of the hydrogen and helium necessary to the process of star formation has been used, and with the raw material still available, more stars and planets could form for many years to come.
The researchers compared this data with results from the Kepler telescope regarding Earth-like, potentially habitable planets. They found that up to one billion Earth-sized planets in their Goldilocks zone exist within the Milky Way galaxy alone, a figure that gets exponentially larger when you consider that there are 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. As a result, they concluded that only 8% of the Earth-like worlds that will exist in the universe have formed as of now.
This study not only indicates that intelligent life is almost certain to exist at some point in the future of the universe (if it doesn't exist already), but life may even persist after our sun burns out. Our sun is expected to die in six billion years, but Earth-like planets are expected to continue to arise around other stars, and the last star in the universe isn't expected to burn out for 100 trillion years, leaving plenty of time for another intelligent civilization to arise.