Our Planet Is Among the First of Many, Many Earths

G. Bacon / NASA / ESA

G. Bacon / NASA / ESA

A new study finds that many more “Earths” are on the way.

Adrienne LaFrance via The Atlantic:

Throughout the universe, trapped in the halos of dark matter, there is enough planet-making material to create at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 more Earth-like planets. A billion trillion of them. In the Milky Way alone, that would mean another 5 billion Earth-like planets over time.

That’s according to new research by astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, whose findings suggest that Earth, and the life it supports, is only among the first in a massive sprawl of potentially habitable planets that will eventually form in the universe.

“We show that this would imply at least a 92 percent chance that we are not the only civilization the universe will ever have,” wrote Peter Behroozi and Molly Peeples, whose conclusions are drawn from a mix of Hubble and Kepler data.

If they turn out to be right, the universe will end up making more than 10 times the number of planets that are already out here. That means more than 10 times the 1 billion Earth-sized worlds already believed to be in the galaxy, and more than 10 times the planets in the 100 billion other galaxies we know about.

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