The galaxy that contains our Solar System, known as the Milky Way, may host billions of planets in the “habitable zone,” which is the area in which life could theoretically exist, according to researchers behind a new study.
Researchers from the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute, who published the findings of their recent study in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, analyzed data derived from NASA’s Kepler space telescope which has already found thousands of exoplanets since its search commenced back in 2009.
Using the data as a basis for their calculations, the researchers attempted to calculate just how many stars in our galaxy might have planets within their habitable zones, the Goldilocks-zone, where liquid water could exist.
The Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen issued a statement which The Economic Times reported to have said:
The calculations show that billions of the stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is the potential for liquid water and where life could exist
The team of researchers employed a new version of the 250-year-old Titius-Bode law, which correctly predicted the position of Uranus prior to its discovery, in order to find the potentially habitable planets in our galaxy.
The method was used to calculate “potential planetary positions” across 151 planetary systems, according to researcher Steffen Jacobsen at Niels Bohr Institute.
We decided to use this method to calculate the potential planetary positions in 151 planetary systems, where the Kepler satellite had found between three and six planets […] According to the statistics and the indications we have, a good share of the planets in the habitable zone will be solid planets where there might be liquid water and where life could exist
In an unrelated study published earlier this year, astronomers at the University of Hertfordshire and Queen Mary University dismissed a 2014 study which questioned the existence of super-Earth Gliese 581d, saying that the statistical technique used in the prior study was inadequate and that the team had employed what they believed to be a more accurate model to the existing data which has lead them to state that they are “highly confident” that the planet does exist.
Are you surprised to find that researchers believe that there may be billions of habitable planets contained within our solar system, the Milky Way?