Billions and billions of planets in the universe

This undated image provided by the University of Utah shows the Andromeda galaxy, made by the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomers are looking for thousands of volunteers to scan computerized images of a neighboring galaxy in a survey that could explain how stars are continually being formed across the universe. The survey is exploring the Milky Way\'s nearest big neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, about 2.5 million light-years away. (AP Photo/University of Utah)

Greg Redfern, wtop.com

Back in September, I wrote in my blog how I thought that there had to be billions if not trillions of planets in the universe.

Well, a new study by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology has determined that our very own Milky Way Galaxy has at least 100 BILLION planets, or to put it another way, one planet per star. That is a lot of planets!

As I said in my blog, planets seem to be a natural byproduct of stellar formation and we are finding planets outside of our solar system, or exoplanets, everywhere we look. We now know of a planetary system around the nearest star system to us located 4 light years away, of a planet that is made of diamond, big Jupiter-sized and bigger planets, and near-Earth sized planets. In short, our Milky Way Galaxy is a veritable zoo of planets – each distinct and incredible.

And if our galaxy has at least one planet per star, so too should the 100 billion+ galaxies that comprise our observable Universe. Wow, what a number of worlds that is.

We have to ask ourselves with all of these worlds is Earth the only one that has evolved a species that can look out amongst the stars and know that there are other worlds out there? I highly doubt it.

Just the sheer number of planets alone favor that there are other life forms out there doing the same and maybe even traveling amongst the stars. We are. Voyager 1 and 2 will roam interstellar space for countless years.

Some day in the future humankind will learn that we are not alone. That intelligent life does exist elsewhere in the universe. Throughout history we have been knocked off our high and mighty perch of thinking we were the center of everything only to discover through science that we are not.

I don’t think it is possible to roam the stars as we do in science fiction because our current knowledge says it is not scientifically feasible to obtain, let alone exceed, the speed of light. But we do not know everything there is to know so “Star Trek”-like interstellar travel may one day be a reality.

Enjoy looking at the night sky with the billions and billions of planets are up there perspective that we now have. Look at each star you see and imagine what planetary wonders may be accompanying that point of light. Also ask yourself if anyone is looking back and pondering the same as well.

See what’s in the sky this week.

Follow my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at skyguyinva@gmail.com.

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