Scientists predict earth-like planets around most stars

February 4, 2015
Goldilocks zone, where liquid water can exist. Credit: Aditya Chopra, ANU, adapted from NASA/JPL

Planetary scientists have calculated that there are hundreds of billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy which might support life.

The new research, led by PhD student Tim Bovaird and Associate Professor Charley Lineweaver from The Australian National University (ANU), made the finding by applying a 200 year old idea to the thousands of exo-planets discovered by the Kepler space telescope.

They found the standard star has about two planets in the so-called goldilocks zone, the distance from the star where , crucial for life, can exist.

"The ingredients for life are plentiful, and we now know that habitable environments are plentiful," said Associate Professor Lineweaver, from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Research School of Earth Sciences.

"However, the universe is not teeming with aliens with human-like intelligence that can build radio telescopes and space ships. 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."

The Kepler space telescope is biased towards seeing planets very close to their stars, that are too hot for liquid water, but the team extrapolated from Kepler's results using the theory that was used to predict the existence of Uranus.

"We used the Titius-Bode relation and Kepler data to predict the positions of that Kepler is unable to see," Associate Professor Lineweaver said.

Explore further: Eight new planets found in 'Goldilocks' zone

Related Stories

Eight new planets found in 'Goldilocks' zone

January 6, 2015

Astronomers announced today that they have found eight new planets in the "Goldilocks" zone of their stars, orbiting at a distance where liquid water can exist on the planet's surface. This doubles the number of small planets ...

Three nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby star

January 16, 2015

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, despite being hobbled by the loss of critical guidance systems, has discovered a star with three planets only slightly larger than Earth. The outermost planet orbits in the "Goldilocks" zone, ...

Kepler marks five years in space

March 7, 2014

(Phys.org) —Five years ago today, on March 6, 2009, NASA's Kepler Space Telescope rocketed into the night skies above Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to find planets around other stars, called exoplanets, in ...

No signals from newest Kepler planet

January 7, 2015

A newly discovered planet has been observed with the Allen Telescope Array in a search for radio signals that would betray technically sophisticated inhabitants, but no transmissions have been detected.

Recommended for you

TDRS: An era of continuous space communications

August 17, 2017

More than 50 years ago, at the dawn of human spaceflight, the first brave astronauts were only able to communicate with mission control operators on Earth for about 15 percent of each orbit. If this were true today, the International ...

Supermassive black holes feed on cosmic jellyfish

August 16, 2017

An Italian-led team of astronomers used the MUSE (Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile to study how gas can be stripped from galaxies. They ...

Radio relic discovered in a low-mass merging galaxy cluster

August 16, 2017

Astronomers have detected a new single radio relic in a low-mass merging galaxy cluster known as PLCK G200.9−28.2. The finding, presented Aug. 5 in a paper published on the arXiv pre-print server, could offer some hints ...

19 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

vtankovich
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2015
Please fix the image. The glaring error is unexcusable for a website that claims to be science-related.
Vietvet
2.8 / 5 (6) Feb 04, 2015
Please fix the image. The glaring error is unexcusable for a website that claims to be science-related.


?
TechnoCreed
4 / 5 (4) Feb 04, 2015
@Vietvet
On the picture, the hot and cold zones are reversed. Yes, it hurts my eyes too. O_o
Qua
3 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2015
We now know that the ingredients for life and habitable environments are plentiful. Great!! But you are not any closer to solving the Fermi paradox because these things have been easily assumed for years.
Vietvet
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 05, 2015
@Vietvet
On the picture, the hot and cold zones are reversed. Yes, it hurts my eyes too. O_o


You can't see my face but it is beet red with embarrassment!!!
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (4) Feb 05, 2015
@Vietvet
On the picture, the hot and cold zones are reversed. Yes, it hurts my eyes too. O_o

Well, they must have fixed it, cuz the too hot is on the inside of the Goldilock zone and the too cold is on the outside, now.
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2015
@Vietvet
On the picture, the hot and cold zones are reversed. Yes, it hurts my eyes too. O_o

Well, they must have fixed it, cuz the too hot is on the inside of the Goldilock zone and the too cold is on the outside, now.
Yes, it has been fixed.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 05, 2015
However, the universe is not teeming with aliens with human-like intelligence that can build radio telescopes and space ships. Otherwise we would have seen or heard from them.

I find this type of argument very unconvincing.
1) In the 'natural' order of innovating technology there may be something better than radio which may be found shortly after radio. So we may currently just be listening with the wrong type of ears
2) If they use radio: To have a chance to hear any alien source of radio they'd have to be broadcasting omnidirectionally (which would be supremely stupid of them) and even those stupid ones would have to be very close to us (which is unlikely)
3) As for ships: we barely notice when a multi kilometer asteroid whizzes past us. Why on Earth would he expect we'd be able to notice ships travelling between the stars?
cjn
5 / 5 (4) Feb 05, 2015
FTA:
"However, the universe is not teeming with aliens with human-like intelligence that can build radio telescopes and space ships. Otherwise we would have seen or heard from them.

Unless something inconceivable is happening (like radio signals intentionally being blocked), the absence of evidence of indicators of intelligent extraterrestrial life may point to the fact that sentience is an exceedingly rare occurrence for life. The fact that over 500ish MYA of complex life on Earth has only very recently resulted in a single sentient species (with related lineages) may hint that the conditions which lead to its emergence are few and far-between. If one were to look at all of the species that have been successful on Earth, one would see that of 1 billion different species, the 16 members of the genus Homo are the extreme outliers (bar napkin math - 10M extant species, only representing .1% of all species).
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 05, 2015
It should also be noted that life bearing planets can be stable for incredibly long periods without producing anything massively sentient.
Dinosaurs 'ruled' the planet for more than 100 million years without so much as an inkling of advanced sentience in sight. That might have gone indefinitely if the slate hadn't been wiped clean.
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (3) Feb 05, 2015
"that can build radio telescopes"

Maybe lots of races build them,, and they're all being very quiet, so they can hear signals from others? If everyone is listening, and no one transmitting, there's nothing to hear.

As others have said, our signals would be hard to pick up, as intelligence, not just "noise", from more than a few dozen light years. And since we haven't been transmitting for much more than a century, nobody beyond 100 light years could hear us at all.
LuisMarco
1 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2015
the 'URANTIA' Revelation (published 1955) already spoke of approximately 7 trillion inhabited worlds in our Universe, so there you have it: URANTIA is authentic as the 5th epochal divine revelation for us humanity!!!. ...
google it & research it if you will it & it's free & complete online, but skip the parts of its foreword that you don't understand... :)))
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (4) Feb 06, 2015
One thing we miss in all this.
The sentient being is always trying to find what the other sentient beings might find important to sentience and therefore what they might be looking for...
IOW - we might be looking for what they might find irrelevant... And vice versa...
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2015
the 'URANTIA' Revelation (published 1955) already spoke of approximately 7 trillion inhabited worlds in our Universe, so there you have it: URANTIA is authentic as the 5th epochal divine revelation for us humanity!!!. ...

1955?!?
Way old news...
And not right, anyway...
Humbled1
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2015
"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."


Human beings were stuck using spears and sharp rocks for 100,000 years or more. Then when they discovered metallurgy it was several thousand more years before they discovered gun powder. A couple hundred more before the first steam engine, then steam engines were lost for another ~700 years or so, then re-discovered.

It can take ages and ages for technologies to advance. You need Calendars, advanced writing and Pythagorean theorem to do any mechanics-based science whatsoever that we would recognize.
Humbled1
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2015
Multicellular life:

Not every type of microbial life you can imagine would even have the chemical basis to produce multi-celluar life. Multi-cellular life uses more energy than microbial life due to specialization and moving around macroscopic amounts of tissue to do new tasks. This requires completely different proteins.

Most life on Earth still doesn't even have a Cell Nucleus for goodness sake.
Qua
not rated yet Feb 07, 2015
Robin Hanson - The Great Filter
dbsi
2.7 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2015
...."However, the universe is not teeming with aliens with human-like intelligence that can build radio telescopes and space ships. Otherwise we would have seen or heard from them."....

-> Perfect encrypted communication is undistinguishable from white noise.
-> We may be quarantined because of underdeveloped ethics
-> What about the predicted transformation of humanity within the next couple of decades in to something which we would not recognize any more when left behind a couple of years
(Kurzweil)
=》 We should think of a Universe teaming with post human-like intelligence and pre human-like life, intelligence and technology.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2015
Perfect encrypted communication is undistinguishable from white noise.

I guess it's even simpler: If we consider that close to light speed travel is possible (or even trans-light speed with something like an Alcubierre drive - although that isn't trans-light in the strict sense of the word)...then broadcasting anything at light speeds becomes moot.

Sending a data probe at those speeds (even if 'just' 0.9c or thereabouts) would be much better, and also a lot less error/intercept prone as a probe could react to any kinds of blockages along the way which a directed beam couldn't.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.