New Study Suggests Earth 2.0 Could Be Just Around The Corner
The chances of finding a habitable Earth-like planet in our galaxy could be higher than previously thought, that is according to findings from a study published today. The study was carried out by a team from The University of California, Berkeley and comes with the staggering conclusion that around 22% of Sun-like stars in the Milky way harbour an Earth-sized planet orbiting in its habitable zone. More staggering still, the study suggests that the closest of these planets could be just 12 light years away. Now, 12 light years might seem like a long way, but in space travel terms, it's more like a walk to your local park than a transatlantic flight.
The team, led by Erik Petigura, used data received from NASA's Kepler space telescope to survey 42,000 sun-like stars from around our galaxy, monitoring periodic dimming in the star's brightness. These drops in brightness represent the passing of planetary bodies in front of their host star and give scientists an idea of their size and orbit. From this data, Petigura's team were able to detect 603 planets, 10 of which appear to be orbiting within their host star's habitable zone (a distance which would provide temperatures suitable for liquid water).
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America the study is among the first to take a sample of sun-like stars within our galaxy and the results are very encouraging for habitable planet hunters.
The Milky Way is home to between 200 and 300 billion stars and, although it is not known how many of these stars are sun-like, a 22% chance of such stars harbouring a potentially habitable planet means that our interstellar neighbourhood could be a very vibrant place indeed. So the next time someone tells you that there is no way extraterrestrial life exists, you might want to point them in the direction of this study.