100 Billion Alien Planets: Researchers’ Planet Estimates from Kepler-32 Study

By on Jan 4, 2013 in Astronomy, Science Comments
100 billion alien planets

100 billion alien planets
Image Credit: NASA; ESA; Z. Levay and
R. van der Marel, STScI; T. Hallas; and A. Mellinger

There are 100 billion alien planets in the Milky Way galaxy based on the estimates of a recent study published in The Astrophysical Journal on Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

John Johnson, an assistant professor at Caltech in Pasadena, California said that “there are at least 100 billion planets in the galaxy, just our galaxy” and “that’s mind-boggling.” Caltech is reportedly the academic home of NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The number was generated by a group of researchers after they conducted a five-planet system study called Kepler-32. These planets were reportedly 915 light-years away from Earth.

Kepler Space Telescope by NASA detected the five distant planets. The telescope “flags the tiny brightness dips caused when exoplanets cross their star’s face from the instrument’s perspective.”

The researchers further explained that planets at Kepler-32 orbit an M dwarf, a smaller and cooler type of star compared to the sun. About 75 percent of the stars in the galaxy are M dwarfs, according to the researchers.

Space.com reported that the size of the five Kepler-32 planets can be compared to the Earth. The orbit of these planets were very close to their parent star.

In a statement, lead researcher Jonathan Swift described their findings. According to him,

It’s a staggering number, if you think about it. Basically there’s one of these planets per star.

Results of the study only include the analysis of “planets orbiting close to M dwarfs and did not include outer planets in M-dwarf systems.”

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