Planetary scientists have calculated that there are billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy that could potentially support life. A team at the Australian National University made the calculation using the Titius-Bode law, along with knowledge of the thousands of exoplanets that have been discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. The Titius-Bode law was created 200 years ago and can be used to predict the positions of planets orbiting a star. Due to the method used to spot them, the Kepler Space Telescope is more likely to find planets that are very close to their stars.

Using the Kepler data as a starting point, they then applied the Titius-Bode law to predict the existence of planets further away from their stars. They found that the standard star has roughly two planets in the so-called Goldilocks zone. This is the distance from the star where liquid water, crucial for life, can exist. If the calculation is correct, it would mean there are 200 billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way alone. But don’t get too excited just yet. The university research team says it is highly unlikely that these exoplanets are home to thriving alien civilizations.

“The ingredients for life are plentiful, and we now know that habitable environments are plentiful,” says researcher Dr. Charley Lineweaver.”However, the Universe is not teeming with aliens with human-like intelligence that can build radio telescopes and spaceships. Otherwise, we would have seen or heard from them. It could be that there is some other bottleneck for the emergence of life that we haven’t worked out yet. Or intelligent civilisations evolve, but then self-destruct.”

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