If ET phones home today, his long distance charge might not be as much as people believed when Steven Spielberg‘s classic film came out three decades ago.
That’s because recent data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope suggests that billions of Earth-like planets are much closer than ever before imagined.
“The information we presented today will excite the general public because we now know that the nearest potentially Earth-like world is likely within 13 light years of the sun,” astronomer Courtney Dressing said in an email to The Huffington Post.
“Astronomically speaking, 13 light years is practically next door.”
While we don’t know if intelligent life exists on any of these planets, it raises the chances of that possibility.
Watch this video about the red dwarf suns and Earth-like planets:
The scientific team studied the huge number of red dwarf stars in our galaxy — stars that are smaller and have a longer life span than our own sun.
Just doing the math, the odds of Earth-like planets in our galaxy are, well, astronomical.
Scientists estimate 6 percent of the 75 billion red dwarf stars may have Earth-size planets orbiting them at a possible habitable distance. That works out to approximately 4.5 billion Earths out there.
“Before today, it could have been that Earth-like planets did not exist, or that they were so rare that the closest one would be beyond the reach of any telescope we might construct. Thus we would never know whether or not we were truly alone,” astronomer David Charbonneau told HuffPost in an email.
Charbonneau, co-author of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics study, acknowledges the intense interest the public has in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
“I would say that the single greatest question in all of science is ‘Are we alone?’ The announcement today moves the ball downfield significantly toward answering this question.
MORE . . .
- Aliens & UFOs – Kepler Data Reveals Billions Of EarthLike Planets Near Earth (disclose.tv)
- Study Suggests Milky Way Galaxy Holds 4.5 Billion Earth-Like Planets (huffingtonpost.com)
- ‘We might find an Earth that’s 10 billion years old’ (standard.co.uk)
- Alien Earth May Be 13 Light-Years Away (khq.com)
- Science: Earth-like Planets Nearby (voanews.com)
- Earth-like planets are right next door (phys.org)
- Closest Earth-like planet a stroll away (bigpondnews.com)
- Astronomically close (news.harvard.edu)
- Earth-like Planets Are Right Next Door (spaceref.com)