Posted by: Kevin | February 20, 2008

1 Billion Earths?

Saw this on the Bad Astonomy blog and I wanted to repost it.

A new study using the Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that planets like Earth may be common!

To summarize BA’s summary, the Spitzer telescope looked at over 300 sun-like stars in the Milky Way and found that many had dust and debris rings in an orbit that roughly corresponds to the Earth’s.  They found that the older the star, the less of a debris cloud was observed.  This would be consistent with the debris slowly consolidating to form a planet over the course of a few hundred million years. 

 Taking the low end of their range, 10% of sun-like stars had these debris rings.  10% of the stars in the galaxy are sun-like, meaning 1% of the stars in the galaxy could harbor an earthlike planet.  1% doesn’t sound like a lot, but there are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way.  Statistically, it would seem like a certainty that there are quite a few “other Earths” out there.  If there are a billion planets in the “goldilocks’ ordit (not too hot, not too cold) around their star, then some small percentage would likely have the other characterists that define the Earth (large moon, water, plate techtonics, etc.)  Somebody needs to get working on foldspace or the warp drive stat.  After all what good is finding these planets if we cant  visit?

Press release on Spitzer’s study
The Actual Study (PDF warning)


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