Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New signs point to a billion planets in our own galaxy where extra-terrestrials might be hiding - 4th Oct 2011

The analysis of the first 136 days of results from NASA's Kepler telescope - launched with the aim to 'search for habitable planets' - has ignited furious debate over the idea of intelligent life in space.

Kepler's scans have found 1,235 extrasolar planets in the Cygnus constellation of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

A new study concludes that 1.2 per cent of stars in our galaxy could have a planet that could support life - more than a billion worlds - and that the 'core' of our galaxy might be richest in these planets. Earth lies further out, nearer the galactic 'rim'.

The rapid formation of planets at the galaxy's core would 'outweigh' the negative effects of repeated supernova explosions - providing a haven for life, say researchers.

The study, a Model of Habitability Within the Milky Way Galaxy, led by the University of Hawaii's Michael Gowanlock, used computer models to 'find' habitable planets - and to weigh up the effects of supernova explosions that would have 'sterilised' the surface. Read More