October 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
This is our best estimate for the number of potentially life-bearing worlds among the planets spotted by Kepler. But we’re missing much of the picture.
Kepler could spot only planets that passed between their parent stars and the telescope’s viewpoint – even a slight tilt in a planet’s orbit could make it invisible to the telescope. And the farther out a planet orbits, the more likely it was to be missed.
After extrapolating for all the missing worlds, Kepler’s field of view becomes dense with planets that may be like Earth.
Now consider this: Kepler observed just 0.28 per cent of the sky. And the telescope was able to peer out to only 3000 light years away, studying less than 5 per cent of the stars in its field of view. So how many Earths might really be out there? read more
PHOTOGRAPH: Bob Mazzer