Universe Far More Planet Populated Than Previously Thought
NASA Articles 1/10/12
By: Chris Capps
It has long been theorized that other stars could have planets just like our Sun, but it wasn't until a few years ago when astronomers began gathering evidence of extrasolar planets suggesting that the universe as we know it may be much more habitable than we once thought. And now a new analysis suggests that on average every star could have its own planets - and some among them may very well be like Earth. The analysis is yet another bridge in the gap between humanity and the populated but silent universe suggested by the Drake Equation.
The Drake Equation is often misrepresented as the equation that proves the existence of extraterrestrial life in our universe. Rather than proving the existence of extraterrestrials, the Drake Equation serves as a potential response to the Fermi Paradox. In a nutshell, the Fermi Paradox takes into consideration the amount of time it took humanity to gain the ability to communicate via radio, thus giving interstellar evidence of Earth's habitation by intelligent beings. It then calls into question where all of the alien radio waves are if this is the case.
If there are billions of stars, and each of these have planets of their own, and civilizations do eventually develop technology that allows them to communicate with other civilizations, then it would appear that the process of terraforming planets across the universe would have happened a long time ago with many aliens communicating across vast distances with traditional means. But the Drake Equation attempts to address the issue of why we have not heard from them. Its conclusions are often cited as evidence that humanity may be in danger of losing its civilization if proper precautions are not taken. It doesn't mean that alien civilizations do or do not exist, simply that they are not existing at the moment in a way that we have been able to see through SETI yet.
But a recent analysis by astronomers recently published in Nature by astronomers from Paris, Poland, Germany, and the US suggests that most - if not all - stars have planets around them. The findings came thanks to a six year study on the subject using newly improved lens reflecting techniques of multiple telescopes and the study of gravitational effects these planets would have on their stars. And with the number of extrasolar planets already discovered it seems reasonable to suggest that our galaxy could have millions of planets very much like Earth in most ways.
So it seems one of the major roadblocks has been removed when it comes to alien life. Rather than the universe being a place with only sparse real estate and planets rare enough to make space exploration futile, it is actually a place absolutely full of planets - possibly even more densely populated than our own. So if there are so many houses on our street, where are the people?