Is planet Earth getting you down? Haven’t you gotten over that mini apocalypse that is 2020? Well, you’re in luck, fellow Earthling—there are now up to 300 million habitable planets that you just might want to move into next (take me with you).
After last month’s revelation that there are 24 super habitable planets “even better for life than our Earth,” NASA, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and other international orgs have added another 276 million more. According to the study in The Astronomical Journal, NASA’s now-retired Kepler space telescope identified more than half of stars similar to the sun that may be harboring planets similar to Earth. Such heavenly bodies reside in the so-called “habitable zone.”
The researchers’ process involved looking for exoplanets that meet a particular set of marks, like size—it must be Earth-sized and rocky enough—and the star it was orbiting.
As part of the study, the organizations also considered which planets can support liquid water by looking at how much light reached an exoplanet from the star it orbits. They reported that this galaxy’s sun-like stars are harboring between 0.4 and 0.9 planets that fit the bill. The downside? Travel time will still take quite a bit of time, as a lot of them are within 30 light-years of our sun.
“We’re one step closer on the long road to finding out if we’re alone in the cosmos.”
“Though this result is far from a final value, and water on a planet’s surface is only one of many factors to support life, it’s extremely exciting that we calculated (how) these worlds are this common with such high confidence and precision,” says NASA astronomer Steve Bryson.
“This is the first time that all of the pieces have been put together to provide a reliable measurement of the number of potentially habitable planets in the galaxy,” says SETI Institute’s exoplanet researcher Jeff Coughlin. “We’re one step closer on the long road to finding out if we’re alone in the cosmos.”
Can you make the move soon? Well, we still need lots of research— unless some advanced civilization finally loans us some of its technology. That is, if we can find them first (The official UFO task force is probably on it, though).
Photo from NASA