November 4th, 2013
A couple of years ago, following the initial Kepler data release, I thought the numbers indicated it was at least 1/100, and likely much higher. Better statistics/analysis seem to indicate a number like 1/5:
“What this means is, when you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Erik Petigura, who led the analysis of the Kepler and Keck Observatory data.
Keep in mind that they all won’t be perfectly “Earth-like” — Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect that makes it less than habitable, for instance. But it does mean that we’re probably closer to living in a Star Trek style universe, with lots of “M-Class” planets and potentially a lot of life in the Milky Way.
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