(MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA) – Ahead of the upcoming SETIcon II June 22 – 24, scientists today made announced new evidence that smaller planets – which have a better than average chance of being habitable – may be more common than originally surmised.
A team of 29 Danish and American astronomers, led by Lars Buchhave, of the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, has analyzed data from both NASA’s Kepler space telescope and ground-based observatories, and has concluded that the possibility of small planets the size of Earth or Mars are still possible even in star systems that contain a limited amount of the require heavy elements.
“The idea that very old stars could also sport habitable planets is encouraging for our searches,” notes Jill Tarter, the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute. “In particular, intelligent life has taken a long time to evolve here on Earth. Consequently, it’s reasonable to suppose that older planetary systems are more likely to have technological societies – the kind we might detect with our radio telescopes.”
The possibility of finding life outside our solar system is one of the topics of discussion at SETIcn II, which will be held June 22 – 24 at the Hyatt Santa Clara hotel. Among those in attendance will be planet-hunters Geoff Marcy (University of California), Deborah Fischer (Yale University), and Jon Jenkins and Doug Caldwell (SETI Institute).
This latest news reinforces the likelihood that small “exoplanets” are more common throughout the galaxy, and finding planets with environments that could support life might be a little more within the realm of believability. The more exoplanets that are out there, the better the chances of finding a few with rocky terrains and oceans.