New research increases likelihood of extraterrestrial life - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

New research increases likelihood of extraterrestrial life

A spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy observed from Earth A spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy observed from Earth

Research published this week in the journal Nature estimates there are many more planets in the Milky Way galaxy than previously assumed.

The new research, conducted by the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris, estimates around 160 billions planets are circling stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way, which is itself one of over 100 billion galaxies discovered.

The number is so large star that it means, on average, every star in the night sky has two planets circling it. If only .01 percent of those planets is habitable, then there may be 16 million planets other than Earth harboring life in this galaxy alone.

Discovery of the new planets is possible with the Kepler Space Observatory, which was launched in 2009.

According to the researchers, "We conclude that stars are orbited by planets as a rule, rather than the exception."

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