Since astronomers confirmed the presence of planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, humanity has wondered how many could harbor life. Now, we’re one step closer to finding an answer. According to new research using data from NASA’s retired planet-hunting mission, the Kepler space telescope, about half the stars similar in temperature to our Sun could have a rocky planet capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.
Our galaxy holds an estimated 300 million of these potentially habitable worlds, based on results in a study released today and to be published in The Astronomical Journal. Some of these exoplanets could even be our interstellar neighbors, with four potentially within 30 light-years of our Sun and the closest likely to be about 20 light-years from us.
This research helps us understand the potential for these planets to have the elements to support life. This is an essential part of astrobiology, the study of life’s origins and future in our universe.To read more, click here.