Our galaxy may contain 60 billion life-supporting planets: Study

LONDON: Our galaxy may contain a staggering 60 billion planets that might be capable of supporting life, scientists now believe according to a report by Britain’s daily Mail Online.

Based on data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, scientists had predicted there should be one Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of each red dwarf, the most common type of star. But a group of researchers has now doubled that estimate after considering how cloud cover might help an alien planet support life.

Cloud cover is crucial for life, as clouds not only reflect sunlight to cool things off – they keep the planet warm enough to sustain life.

A new study by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University said that the Milky Way alone could contain 60 billion planets orbiting red dwarf stars that could support life. It also suggests new ways for astronomers to test whether planets orbiting red dwarfs have cloud cover.