Approximately one in five sun-like stars in the galaxy are surrounded by planets that could meet some of the basic prerequisites for life, according to a new analysis of telescope data released Monday.
The study, released in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, is based on a three-year examination of data from NASA's Kepler space telescope and suggests that at least 8.8 billion planets that fit Earth’s size and temperature requirements for life exist in the Milky Way galaxy alone.
As for what it says about the odds that there is life somewhere out there, it means “just in our Milky Way galaxy alone, that’s 8.8 billion throws of the biological dice,” said study co-author Geoff Marcy to the Associated Press, a longtime planet hunter from the University of California at Berkeley.
"Planets seem to be the rule rather than exception," study leader Erik Petigura, an astronomy graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, added during a conference call with reporters on Monday.
Photo: AP Photo/Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics