Exoplanets News

There are more planets than stars in the galaxy?

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In “Exoplanets are around most stars, study suggests” (BBC News, January 11, 2012), Jason Palmer reports,

Every star twinkling in the night sky plays host to an average of 1.6 planets, a new study suggests.

That implies there are some 10 billion Earth-sized planets in our galaxy.

Using a technique called gravitational microlensing, an international team found a handful of exoplanets that imply the existence of billions more.

Why does this remind so many of us vaguely of uranium futures, abandoned mines, and ghost towns?

Of course it would be nice. But when we hear

“Just the recent 15 years have seen the count of known planets beyond the Solar System rising from none to about 700, but we can expect hundreds of billions to exist in the Milky Way alone,” said co-author Dr Martin Dominik, from the University of St Andrews, UK.

, we might want to ask, how are we to know that all extra-solar system, environments are similar in this matter?

Here’s AP’s take on it:

“It just feels like it’s inevitable that Kepler is going to come up with a habitable Earth-sized planet in the next couple of years,” Caltech’s Johnson said.

Long ago, in mining, they used to say, “Gold is where you find it.” In other words, never let theory or expectation dominate the regional record of strikes.

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5 Replies to “There are more planets than stars in the galaxy?

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    If hundreds of billions of exoplanets might exist, then I can continue believing that the Star Wars universe is real. Excellent.

  2. 2
    Joe says:

    Well the only way they are going to find a habitable earth-like planet is by searching for the criteria spelled out in “The Privileged Planet”.

  3. 3
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    we might want to ask, how are we to know that all extra-solar system, environments are similar in this matter?

    No one says they are *all* similar. It’s just that with a few hundred billion per galaxy, the odds are pretty good that you’ll have some earth-like planets in habitable zones.

    The various claims that IDists make about the rarity of earthlike planets, based on known extrasolar planets, are actually pretty funny. The most-detectable extrasolar planets are (a) big and (b) really close to their star. Many of these have indeed been detected.

    But it’s not as if every star has these big, close-in planets. Many stars have no detections so far. But the Kepler results etc. indicate that it is very fair to suspect that many of those stars with no detections so far actually have small planets further out, e.g. like our solar system.

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    No one says they are *all* similar. It’s just that with a few hundred billion per galaxy, the odds are pretty good that you’ll have some earth-like planets in habitable zones.

    It takes more than being in the habitable zone to be a habitable planet.

    The various claims that IDists make about the rarity of earthlike planets, based on known extrasolar planets, are actually pretty funny.

    Strange that non-ID scientists tend to supprt the claim of IDists on this matter. See the book “Rare Earth”, for one example.

  5. 5
    NickMatzke_UD says:

    …and see approximately everyone else in the field who has been quoted in the media in the last few years for the majority view.

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