100 Billion Alien Planets in Milky Way Galaxy, Study Finds
on Jan 03, 2013 03:44 PM EST
A new study by NASA scientists suggests that there may be more than 100 billion alien planets in the Milky Way.
The new study was published Jan. 2 in The Astrophysical Journal and comprised of research conducted on the five-planet system Kepler-32.
Scientists took the research and figured that our galaxy is likely full of undiscovered alien worlds.
Space.com posted a statement made by the study's lead author Jonathan Swift of Caltech in Pasadena that said: "It's a staggering number, if you think about it. Basically there's one of these planets per star."
Swift added that nearly every M dwarf star has at least one planet.
M dwarf stars are similar but smaller than our sun. They are the most numerous star found in the Milky Way galaxy.
The scientists calculated that if every M dwarf star has at least one planet, then there are over 100 billion alien planets in our galaxy.
The researchers used the NASA's Kepler Space Telescope to study the planetary system that lies 915 light-years from earth. The researchers were able to take small dips in light as one of the exoplanets crossed in front of the star. Swift and his team said that the planets surrounding Kepler-32 are similar to the planets surrounding other M dwarf stars in the Milky Way.
"I usually try not to call things 'Rosetta stones,' but this is as close to a Rosetta stone as anything I've seen," said study co-author John Johnson about the research findings. "It's like unlocking a language that we're trying to understand - the language of planet formation."
The new study falls in line with a prediction made last year by Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico that the first "alien earth" would be discovered in 2013, according to Fox News.
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