Possibility of 8.8 Billion Habitable Planets in the Milky Way Galaxy

One in five Sun like stars have "habitable" world's orbiting them.

An artist's impression showing an asteroid belt around a star similar in size to the sun.
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Krypton is known as the fictitious star orbiting, Earth-like planet from which the comic book hero Superman hails from. But new scientific data published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has revealed billions of star orbiting planets, like Earth, making Krypton more factual then fictional after all.

Astronomers from the University of California-Berkeley and University of Hawaii have estimated the existence of tens of billions of Earth-size habitable planets in the Milky Way galaxy. Using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers discovered earth like planets in "habitable zones" for one in five stars like the Sun. "The habitable zone" is the area around a star where climates and temperatures are conducive for water to stay liquid at the surface, water being the prime ingredient for life.

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An estimated 22 percent of stars in the Milky Way that are similar to the sun, have planets like Earth in their "habitable zone" or "Goldilocks zone," and since there are about 20 billion stars similar to the sun in the galaxy alone, the possibilities of planets favorable to life are unfathomable.

"Just in our Milky Way galaxy alone, that's 8.8 billion throws of the biological dice," study co-author Geoff Marcy told AP News, about the possibility of life in the abyss of space.

One of Macy's colleagues and fellow classmates, Erick Petigura from the University of California-Berkeley said that the discovery of the commonness of these types of planets means we could possibly be closer then we realized.

"What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest Sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye," said Petigura in a press release.

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Andrew Howard, another co-author, told CNN the next step would be to find one of these Earth-like planets and study it; an undertaking this discovery has also made easier.

"For NASA, this number - that every fifth star has a planet somewhat like Earth - is really important, because successor missions to Kepler will try to take an actual picture of a planet, and the size of the telescope they have to build depends on how close the nearest Earth-size planets are," Howard said. "An abundance of planets orbiting nearby stars simplifies such follow-up missions."

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