Researchers have announced that billions of habitable planets may exist in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. For this study, scientists conducted a survey red dwarf stars in our galaxy. Since four in five starts in the Milky Way are red dwarf stars, based on the results of the survey, 40% of these stars should have a rocky, earth-size planet within the habitable zone within which liquid water can exist.
While this does not mean that other life exists, potentially billions of other planets in our galaxy with the correct orbital conditions for liquid water to exist sure raises the probability that life can arise, or has arisen [Or in my opinion most likely has arisen and gone extinct many many times on countless worlds].
Dr Xavier Bonfils, from Grenoble University in France, who led the international team:
''Because red dwarfs are so common - there are about 160 billion of them in the Milky Way - this leads us to the astonishing result that there are tens of billions of these planets in our galaxy alone.''
And it gets even more exciting, since many red dwarf stars are near our Solar System. In fact, there could be around 100 habitable zone planets with 30 light years [For all of you Battletech fans, 30 light years is the maximum range of the Kearny-Fuchida FTL Drive].
Of course it is not all good news, since many red dwarf stars give off lots of x-rays and ultraviolet radiation, which could make life on these planets less likely. Still, it is staggering to think of how many planets in habitable zones are out there, either for life to develop or for us to visit.
Via [The Telegraph] (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/9170683/New-life-in-space-hope-after-billions-of-habitable-planets-found-in-Milky-Way.html)
So many stars, with so many planets, in our galaxy alone (2012)