Scientists Discover Milky Way Has 100 Billion Alien Planets
A new study details this "mind boggling" discovery.
A Jan. 2 study published in The Astrophysical Journal finds our Milky Way galaxy likely hosts upwards of 100 billion planets.
An article in The Space Reporter reports the number may be a difficult to verify, "but NASA officials are saying that a batch of recently discovered planets prove that the universe is littered with hundreds of billions of planets similar those within our own solar system."
Experts are calling it "mind boggling" and "staggering" and say it "basically means there's one of these planets per star."
The Space Reporter said that Jonathan Swift, a postdoctoral student at Caltech and lead author of the study, and his colleagues arrived "at their estimate after studying a five-planet system dubbed Kepler-32, which lies just under 1,000 light years from Earth. The team of NASA researchers say the alien solar system represents the vast majority of planets in our galaxy, thus serving as a perfect case study for understanding how most of these worlds form. The planetary system in question, which was detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, contains five planets. Two of the planets orbiting Kepler-32 had previously been discovered by other astronomers and at least one of the planets is thought to have a similar composition to that of Earth."
As reported on NBCNews.com, "the five Kepler-32 worlds are similar in size to Earth and orbit quite close to their parent star, making them typical of the planets Kepler has spotted around other M dwarfs. So the Kepler-32 system should be representative of many of the galaxy's planets, scientists said."
The Space Reporter article said this is the first try by astronomers to "calculate the total number of planets based on actual observations made by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. The space telescope has reportedly captured images of upwards of 3,000 exoplanets, many of which have yet to be confirmed. Astronomers around the world have spent the last year and a half examining the images and conducting additional research to confirm their orbits and composition."
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, launched on March 6, 2009, searches for planet candidates orbiting distant suns, or exoplanets, by continuously measuring the brightness of more than 150,000 stars.