Up till now, we have believed that Earth is the only habitable planet in the Universe, but a new survey says there might be a lot more! Our galaxy holds at least an estimated 300 million of these potentially habitable worlds, according to new research using data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.Also Read - NASA Launches 12-Year-Long Mission Lucy to Explore Solar System Origin, Trojan Asteroids. All You Need to Know
This means that half the stars similar in temperature to our Sun could have a rocky planet capable of supporting liquid water on its surface. A habitable planet needs to be in the “just right” zone, or the so-called Goldilocks zone, to support liquid water on its surface. Also Read - NASA to Launch First 'Lucy' Mission to Distant Asteroids on Oct 16 | Details Inside
According to scientists, “rocky planets” are planets with diameters 0.5 to 1.5 times that of Earth. Also Read - Video: NASA Shares Mesmerizing Video of Saturn and its Moon Parade Captured by Hubble Telescope. WATCH
”Some of these exoplanets could even be our interstellar neighbours, with at least four potentially within 30 light-years of our Sun and the closest likely to be at most about 20 light-years from us. These are the minimum numbers of such planets based on the most conservative estimate that 7% of Sun-like stars host such worlds. However, at the average expected rate of 50%, there could be many more,” reports NASA’s Ames Research Center.
The research comes after astronomers estimated the number of these planets using data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft. It spent nine years on this mission before running out of fuel in 2018.
NASA said it and other space agencies will continue to refine the estimate in future research.
“Somewhere, on some other planet orbiting some very distant star, maybe in another galaxy, there could well be entities that are at least as intelligent as we are, and are interested in science. It is not impossible,” 1969 Nobel-Prize laureate, physicist Murray Gell-Mann said.