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Billions Of Potentially Habitable, Earth-Like Planets Could Exist In The Milky Way

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Milky WayAs you’ve probably heard by now (and definitely heard if you’re a regular GFR reader), the Kepler telescope’s (RIP) search for potentially habitable planets has been wildly successful. There are thousands of planets that might support life, but the bad news is that most of these are millions or billions of light years away, which means that in order for that to do us any good, we’d need to master manned interstellar travel, which is going to take us some time. But a recent discovery might change all that. Thanks to Kepler data, scientists have discovered that there are a bunch — possibly even billions — of Earth-like planets inside our own Milky Way.

The Milky Way has somewhere around 200 billion stars. Astronomers estimate that one in every five of these stars has at least one planet orbiting around it that is the right temperature to support the existence of liquid water on its surface, and thus, life. That’s at least 40 billion planets, and maybe far more. Of those 200 billion stars, roughly 40 billion are similar to the Sun, which means that those stars support at least 8 billion planets, and maybe more.

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Scientists Spot Clouds On An Exoplanet

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Kepler-7b next to Jupiter

Kepler-7b next to Jupiter

The search for potentially habitable planets not yet saddled by ridiculous government shutdowns (I’m going to keep bringing it up until these assholes cut it out) has been a consistent topic in the news lately, despite NASA’s current crippled status. Mars has water, Cereshas ice, and now scientists have spotted clouds in the atmosphere of Kepler-7b.

Kepler-7b was, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, discovered by the Kepler telescope back when it was fully operational and in the business of spotting “candidate” planets. In fact, it was one of the first five planets identified, though it wasn’t confirmed until 2009. Like other candidate planets, Kepler-7b orbits a star, though one much larger and hotter than ours, and is often referred to as a “hot Jupiter.” This means that it shares characteristics with the giant planet, but is far hotter due to its closer proximity to its sta. 7b is also much bigger than Jupiter.

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Possible Earth-Like Planet May Possibly Be Hospitable. Possibly.

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When I was a kid, I used to love looking up at the stars through whatever telescope I could find. Eventually I stopped, because, like many other things in my life, I figured if I couldn’t see farther than anyone else, there wasn’t much of a point to it. This is obviously why I’m writing this story instead of the subject of it. Maybe there’s someone just like me on HD 40307 g. A team of researchers from the UK’s University of Hertfordshire Centre for Astrophysics Research, led by Mikko Tuomi, have located what may be a planet with life-sustaining similarities to our own.

Anybody home?