Milky Way Could Contain 100 Billion Planets

Voice of America News reports: “It seems like hardly a week goes by without another planet being discovered in some far off stellar system, but a new study, released by the California Institute of Technology, indicates there will likely be many, many more such discoveries.

The Caltech team made this conclusion based on analyzing the planets orbiting the Kepler-32 star, which contains five planets and which the scientists say is representative of the vast majority of stars in our galaxy. Kepler-32 is classified as an M dwarf, and scientists say three out of every four stars in the galaxy are M dwarfs, also known as red dwarfs.

‘There’s at least 100 billion planets in the galaxy—just our galaxy,’ says John Johnson, assistant professor of planetary astronomy at Caltech and coauthor of the study, which was recently accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. ‘That’s mind-boggling.’

Scientists say their estimate of 100 billion stars is conservative because it doesn’t take into account planets which may be orbiting further away from M dwarfs or planets orbiting other types of stars…” (Psalm 19:1 – 3; Psalm 8:3, 4. See the next report.)

Tau Ceti’s planets nearest around single, Sun-like star

BBC News reports: “The nearest single Sun-like star to the Earth hosts five planets – one of which is in the ‘habitable zone’ where liquid water can exist, astronomers say.

Tau Ceti’s planetary quintet – reported in an online paper that will appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics – was found in existing planet-hunting data.

The study’s refined methods of sifting through data should help find even more far-flung worlds.

The star now joins Alpha Centauri as a nearby star known to host planets.

In both those cases, the planets were found not by spying them through a telescope but rather by measuring the subtle effects they have on their host stars’ light.

In the gravitational dance of a planet around a star, the planet does most of the moving. But the star too is tugged slightly to and fro as the planet orbits, and these subtle movements of the star show up as subtle shifts in the colour of the star’s light we see from Earth…”

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