What you’re looking at here is an illustration showing just how many planets there really are in our humble little bit of the universe, the Milky Way. While we think our 3rd rock from the Sun is unique, actually there are billions of planets, with a minimum of 1,500 of the things within just 50 light-years of Earth alone – one of them must be ET’s home.
Of course the illustration, which looks like something out of Star Trek: The Next Generation, has compacted things a bit – there’s a lot more space between stars than is shown here – but you get the picture. The image has been created from the results of a six-year search that surveyed millions of stars by the aptly named PLANET (Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork) collaboration. Its job was to search out planets, and it found that planets are the rule, rather than the exception, with each star having at least one planet in orbit on average.
That’s not to say Earth isn’t unique though -- not all of those planets will be able to support life falling into the “Goldilocks Zone” -- but it’s interesting to think that with that many planets out there, just by pure chance, we can’t be alone in the galaxy, surely? [NASA via Daily Mail]
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Kornmesser (ESO)