People have wondered aloud for decades that if our planet one day became uninhabitable, would we be able to find a new home? Well until recently scientists had hypothesized that there were at most a couple thousand inhabitable planets in our galaxy. Now it has come to light in a recent discovery that there are more like billions of planets in the coveted “green zone” circling red dwarfs in the Milky Way that could be inhabitable.
Dr Xavier Bonfils, from Grenoble University in France, said: ”Because red dwarfs are so common – there are about 160 billion of them in the Milky Way – this leads us to the astonishing result that there are tens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone.”
In their study, the team of astronomers surveyed a carefully chosen sample of 102 red dwarfs using the European Southern Observatory’s telescope at La Silla, Chile. A total of nine super-Earths (planets with masses between one and 10 times that of Earth) were found. Two were located within the habitable zones of the stars Gliese 581 and Gliese 667 C. This data was combined with other observations, including those of stars which did not have planets. The astronomers, whose research was reported in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, worked out that habitable zone super-Earths orbiting red dwarfs occurred with a frequency of around 41 per cent.
Because red dwarfs are common near the sun, many ”super-Earths” may not be far away. The scientists estimate there could be around 100 habitable zone planets within 30 light years. Thats right people, If we as human beings can ever move even near the speed of light, we could be 35-40 years away from a new home if the Earth is ever in jeopardy.