Key Takeaways:

  1. Astronomers now estimate over 100 billion Earth-like planets exist in the Milky Way.
  2. There could be a staggering 5×10^22 habitable planets in the known universe.
  3. Our galaxy may house over 100 billion planets, challenging previous estimates.
  4. NASA’s Kepler mission suggests 40 billion Earth-sized planets in habitable zones.
  5. Recent discoveries hint at potential for alien life on exoplanets.

Astronomers have made a staggering admission: there may be over 100 billion Earth-like planets in our Milky Way galaxy alone. This revelation stems from the understanding that there could be approximately 500 billion galaxies in the observable universe, resulting in an astronomical 5×10^22 habitable planets. Inside our Milky Way, experts once believed there were around 400 billion stars, but this number may be a mere fraction of the actual count, possibly even reaching the trillions. However, since we can’t observe our galaxy from the outside, these figures remain estimates.

Researchers employ intricate calculations of the Milky Way’s mass and the proportion of stars within it to arrive at these approximations. NASA’s findings add a compelling dimension to this narrative. The PLANET collaboration, active since 1995, has concluded that there are at least 1,500 planets within a 50 light-year radius from Earth, with an emphasis on Earth-sized planets over Jupiter-like behemoths.

Dr. Phil Yock, a physicist at the University of Auckland, noted that Kepler’s discoveries indicate approximately 17 billion Earth-sized planets near their host stars in the Milky Way. Some of these planets may even be comparable in temperature to Earth if they orbit a red dwarf star. The number of potentially habitable planets appears to be a growing figure, with data from the Kepler mission suggesting about 40 billion Earth-sized planets in our galaxy’s habitable zones.

NASA’s Kepler telescope, launched in 2009, has identified over 4,000 potential exoplanets, with over 2,300 confirmed. Estimates regarding Earth-like planets orbiting Sun-like and red dwarf stars range from 11 billion to a staggering 100 billion.

In 2017, NASA’s discovery of the Trappist-1 solar system, boasting seven Earth-like planets, was a significant breakthrough. Additionally, they unveiled ten new exoplanets outside our solar system, offering tantalizing prospects for the existence of life beyond Earth’s boundaries.

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