Our galaxy might be a bit more crowded than we've ever thought.
A new study by the scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA suggests that one out of every 37 to one out of every 70 sun-like stars may have an Earth-like planet in its orbit, according to Space.com. These planets are at such a position that liquid water could exist on the planet's surface, according to the researchers.
That means there could be billions of Earth-like planets just in the Milky Way Galaxy.
In February, the Kepler telescope identified 1,200 possible alien worlds, 68 of which were about the size of Earth. The new data, again collected by the Kepler telescope, suggests that 1.4 percent to 2.7 percent of all stars in the galaxy could be expected to have Earth-like planets in the appropriate zones, according to UPI.
But there may be even more life out there, in other galaxies.
"This means there are a lot of Earth analogs out there -- two billion in the Milky Way galaxy," researcher Joseph Catanzarite, an astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told SPACE.com. "With that large a number, there's a good chance life and maybe even intelligent life might exist on some of those planets. And that's just our galaxy alone -- there are 50 billion other galaxies."
The same scientists predict that about 12 Earth-like worlds will be discovered after three to four years of Kepler data is analyzed, according to Space. Four have already been seen in the few months of data already released.