Billions of Planets Might Be Habitable
European researchers made a rather jaw-dropping announcement recently after studying the frequency of rocky planets similar to Earth in the habitable zones around faint red stars. They said the result of their study is there are tens of billions of planets similar to Earth.
The researchers studied 102 red dwarf stars over a six year period and found nine Super-Earths, which are planets with the same mass of Earth or up to ten times greater. Based on studying various data sets they concluded the potential number of inhabitable planets resembling Earth is huge. Super-Earths are thought to be very common around other stars and they could have both water and rock.
They found about forty percent of red dwarf stars have Super-Earths orbiting in a zone where it is possible water exists on the surface of planets.
Red dwarfs are the most common stars nearest the Sun, but are not visible with the naked eye due to low luminosity. It may be possible in the future to build a telescope that can view the light from an extrasolar planet to see if it shows signs of oxygen or methane. These two gases are chemical signs of life.
Image Credit: ESO / L. Calcada