Recently some astronomers have dramatically increased their estimates of how many planets in our little corner of the Cosmos might fall in the habitable zone around red dwarf stars! There could be as many as 60,000,000,000 such habitable planets in the Milky Way alone!
Based on data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, scientists have predicted that there should be one Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of each red dwarf, the most common type of star. But a group of researchers has now doubled that estimate after considering how cloud cover might help an alien planet support life.
“Clouds cause warming, and they cause cooling on Earth,” study researcher Dorian Abbot, an assistant professor in geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. “They reflect sunlight to cool things off, and they absorb infrared radiation from the surface to make a greenhouse effect. That’s part of what keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life.” [9 Alien Planets That Could Support Life]