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A new study by the scientists at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA suggests that our galaxy may be more crowded than once thought. The study discovered that one out of every 37 to one out of every 70 sun-like stars may have an Earth-like planet in its orbit, according to Space.com. These planets are at a position that liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface, according to the researchers.
These new calculations are based on data collected by the Kepler space telescope, which shocked the world in February by revealing 1,200 possible alien worlds, 68 of which were about the size of Earth. The spacecraft does so by looking for the dimming that occurs when a world transits or moves in front of a star.
What does the new data mean exactly? “This means there are a lot of Earth analogs out there — two billion in the Milky Way galaxy,” researcher Joseph Catanzarite, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told SPACE.com. “With that large a number, there’s a good chance life and maybe even intelligent life might exist on some of those planets. And that’s just our galaxy alone — there are 50 billion other galaxies.”
There could be billions of Earth-like planets just in the Milky Way Galaxy and that means that the likelihood of other life form is also greater. After the researchers analyzed the four months of data in this initial batch of readings from Kepler, they determined that 1.4 to 2.7 percent of all sunlike stars are expected to have Earthlike planets — ones that are between 0.8 and two times Earth’s diameter and within the habitable zones of their stars.
There may be more life out there in these other galaxies. The same scientists predict that about 12 Earth-like worlds will be discovered after three to four years of Kepler data is analyzed, according to Space.com. Four have already been seen just in the few months of data already released. Kepler mission scientists have estimated that, altogether, there could be 50 billion planets in the Milky Way, though not all would be Earth-size worlds within the habitable zone of their local stars.