NASA scientists using the Hubble space telescope have discovered what they believe are 16 new planets deep in the Milky Way, leading them to conclude there are probably billions of planets spread throughout the galaxy.
Over the past 15 years, other astronomers have identified more than 200 planets outside our solar system, but the new ones identified by the Hubble are at least 10 times farther away from Earth.
That planets can be found at the center of the galaxy, as well as near our solar system, has given NASA researchers confidence that they are likely to be everywhere. And if that’s the case, then the likelihood of other Earthlike planets becomes greater.
“We all are dreamers, and part of that dream is to find life somewhere,” said Mario Livio, head of the science program at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which oversees Hubble operations. “We’re finding that the galaxy is full of planets and the chances are, somewhere out there, we will find one with the conditions necessary to be habitable.”
Based on the number of planets identified and the number of stars in the Milky Way, the scientists estimated that as many as 6 billion Jupiter-size planets exist in the galaxy.