PARIS — The Milky Way is home to far more planets than previously thought, boosting the odds that at least one of them may harbour life, according to a study released Wednesday.
Not long ago, astronomers counted the number of “exoplanets” detected outside our own solar system in the teens, then in the hundreds. Today the tally stands at just over 700.
But the new study, published in Nature, provides evidence that there are more planets than stars in our own stellar neighbourhood.
“We used to think that Earth might be unique in our galaxy,” said Daniel Kubas, a professor at the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris, and co-leader of the study.
“Now it seems that there are literally billions of planets with masses similar to Earth orbiting stars in the Milky Way.”