Milky Way, our home galaxy, consists of millions and millions of stars and billions of planets orbiting those stars. According to a recent revelation by NASA scientists, some of those planets might be located within a “habitable zone”, which means life might exist in those planets theoretically.
The Kepler telescope, a space telescope launched by NASA in 2009, was employed for locating exoplanets outside our solar system. In the past six years, the telescope has found thousands of exoplanets. A number of planets discovered by the instrument are part of a system resembling our planetary system i.e. a planetary system that has multiple planets orbiting a single star.
This data helped researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen and the Australian National University to calculate the number of stars in Milky Way that might have planets in habitable zones. The term “habitable zones” means areas with liquid water, which is the basic requirement for both complex and primitive life to exist.
In a recently issued statement, scientists representing the Niels Bohr Institute said that they have found that Milky Way is home to billions of stars with 1 to 3 planets located in their habitable zones; this means there’s high potential that those planets have both liquid water and life.
The study was published in the recent edition of a widely read science journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
To calculate the number of stars with planets in their habitable zones, the team of researchers used a century old method known as the Titius-Bode law. It is the same method that was used for predicting the exact location of Uranus before the planet was discovered.
Search of exoplanets is still just an academic pursuit and it will remain so for years to come. Humans will be able to explore exoplanets only if they manage to discover a technology that allows time travel. So, for now we’ll have to be happy just with the information collected by instruments like the Kepler telescope.