Tens of billions of these planets, in the habitable zone..
(03/28/12) Sciencedaily.com has details about the recent discovery, by an international team, that there must be many billions of rocky planets in habitable zones around red dwarf stars in Milky Way galaxy. That makes about 100 in the suns immediate neighborhood, presumably an estimate based only on what we can even detect so far. A method used by other researchers, which led to a recent announcement that planets are “ubiquitous in our galaxy”, was not even sensitive to the type of exoplanet considered by this international team, using the HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Xavier Bonfils, of the Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Grenoble, France, is quoted saying, “Our new observations with HARPS mean that about 40% of all red dwarf stars have a super-Earth orbiting in the habitable zone where liquid water can exist on the surface of the planet.” To make it even more clear, he stated, “”Because red dwarfs are so common — there are about 160 billion of them in the Milky Way — this leads us to the astonishing result that there aretens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone.” (emphasis added)
The “habitable zone”, the zone where researchers think liquid water could exist, is much closer to red dwarf stars than it is to our sun. It makes life, at least as we know it, somewhat problematic because red dwarfs are subject to eruptions that emit radiation (X-rays, for one.) And yet, remembering Jeff Goldblum’s line from Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”…who knows what nature might come up with.
On our ‘island in the Sun’, we’re finding that there are a lot more islands, with suns all their own.
Read the full article here: ScienceDaily.com