2.5 Billion Habitable Earth-like Planets in Milky Way Galaxy

gliese581c an earth like planet

Phil Plait, the skeptic and astronomer, of Discover Magazine's Bad Astronomy blog section noted a report about the amount of earth-mass planets in the galaxy and used some quick math to estimate the number of earth-like planets in our galaxy that could potentially be habitable.

Astronomers always struggle with figuring out the best way to estimate where and how many planets that can create life like on our planet could be out there. Of course the sheer number factors and variables can make it very hard to estimate.

Phil Plait estimates using some simple math that it would be about 2.5 billion planets.

In order to make such estimates, astronomers have to consider problems like distance from the star, because a planet too close or too far could be too cold or too hot to sustain life, i.e., they have to be in the Goldilocks zone much like Earth is. Another variable, is the material of the planet, is it just gas or harder materials? Does it have an atmosphere or the potential for an atmosphere? Does it intersect orbits with other planets or moons that could indicate a heated core? Does it have the necessary elements to sustain and create life?

The list can go on forever, so I think it's best to leave it to the astronomers and await the results of the Kepler telescope which will be looking for earth-like planets in distant stars.

Furthermore, none of this may matter if we cannot figure out the technology to get there, although Gliese 581g a recently discovered planet is only 20 light years away and seems to have a decent size (3x bigger than Earth) with the correct distance from its star.

However, let's not forget we would have to reach the speed of light to get there in 20 years. I think we will really need wormholes or some sort of FTL drive like in Sci-fi movies and TV shows.

anstrom's picture

That is pretty awesome stuff.

That is pretty awesome stuff. I really hope that Kepler will reveal more accurate predictions.

But we have more problems than just travel, even something as simple as communication is still somewhat of a problem. Even viewing the planets from such distances is difficult for our telescopes.

js444's picture

FTL drive is needed hehe,

FTL drive is needed hehe, something mentioned a lot on Stargate but never explained :P.

Baran Ornarli's picture

Awesome article Vassily. The

Awesome article Vassily. The future is bright, but the only problem is our lives are not long enough to maybe see it happen I guess. I think the first solution is to make sure we can all live and sustain life for a very long time, then we can consider interstellar and intergalactic travel right?

George's picture

True, but what if we can

True, but what if we can discover those steps and technology to lengthen and sustain life for a long time by communicating with aliens or traveling to their planets so they discover us.

Baran Ornarli's picture

Perhaps you're right George.

Perhaps you're right George. As long as Stephen Hawkins nightmares don't come true.

Nate's picture

I'm kind of curious as to

I'm kind of curious as to what kind of physical side-effects a planet like that would have on us. Think of the diseases and lack of necessary bacteria there might be. I wish I was alive when the voyage to that planet actually takes place. I would definitely be one of the people who opts to take the trip through space to populate a new planet.

gcjeffers's picture

That is pretty awesome stuff.

That is pretty awesome stuff. I really hope that Kepler will reveal more accurate predictions.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account associated with the e-mail address you provide, it will be used to display your avatar.