Scientists have figured out the number of planets in the universe that resemble Earth and orbit stars like the Sun, the Independent reports.
Researchers with NASA’s Kepler Mission used the Kepler Space Telescope’s findings to create new models of imaginary universes that they then watched to see how many stars and planets would have been captured by the telescope, and how many would have been overlooked. They found that it’s likely that one-in-four stars has a planet or planets about the size Jof Earth with years of similar length.
Kepler discovered planets with a wide variety of sizes, compositions and orbits,” Eric B. Ford, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State and one of the research team’s leaders, told the Independent.
We want to use those discoveries to improve our understanding of planet formation and to plan future missions to search for planets that might be habitable. However, simply counting exoplanets of a given size or orbital distance is misleading, since it’s much harder to find small planets far from their star than to find large planets close to their star.”
We used the final catalogue of planets identified by Kepler and improved star properties from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft to build our simulations,” added Danley Hsu, a Penn State graduate student and the paper’s first author.
By comparing the results to the planets catalogued by Kepler, we characterized the rate of planets per star and how that depends on planet size and orbital distance. Our novel approach allowed the team to account for several effects that have not been included in previous studies.”