22 February 2011

50 billion planets in the Milky Way

Billion, not million.  And planets, not stars.
Scientists have estimated the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy and the numbers are astronomical: at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way. At least 500 million of those planets are in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold zone where life could exist. The numbers were extrapolated from the early results of NASA's planet-hunting Kepler telescope.
Photo ["Milky Way over Switzerland"] from NASA's APOD website.


  1. Of course the numbers are "astronomical."

    Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

  2. HEY !! Just noticed a wee error, the article says 50 billion planets, 50 million of which they think are in the Not-too-hot-or-cold zone...
    You accidentally typed the wrong numbers in your post.
    Just thought I'd let ya know.

    Thanks !

  3. (50 billion planets, 500 million where life could theoretically exist)

  4. I was only off by a log power.

    (fixed - thanx)

  5. Sometimes when presented with a number like 50 billion I have a hard time grasping the magnitude of it. Clicking on the photo to enlarge it and looking at all those stars in that small slice of the milky way gives a different perspective. When I then consider how many of those stars might have multiple planets the enormity of the numbers can be more fully appreciated. Nice picture.

  6. All this and yet if you say that you believe there is life somewhere else in the universe you're still regarded as a bit of a lunatic...

    Or maybe it's just me ;)


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