For all you astronomy buffs, a follow-up to our recent post about NASA’s Kepler mission. The goal of the project is to identify potential Earth-like planets in a small swath of the Milky Way Galaxy. To date, Kepler has confirmed 105 planets that orbit in a “sweet spot” distance from their sun and have the potential to be hospitable to life.
A new study by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used the Kepler data and estimates that billions of such planets probably exist in the vastness of the Milky Way Galaxy. Science.com reports the story.
Elliott Horch, an associate professor of physics at Southern who has developed a telescopic device that is being used in the Kepler mission, believes the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics study is legit.
“It is an estimate, with some sizable uncertainty, but it is based on data we have from Kepler so far,” Horch says. “Kepler is great for getting statistics of planets because it’s looking at so many stars at the same time.”
Who knows what else Kepler and related research will find in the months and years ahead?