Earth-like planets ‘to be found in our galaxy’


Planets like ours may be close
Planets like ours may be close

The Earth is “pretty normal” as far as the universe goes and there could be many more planets like our own, according to a new study.

The building blocks that helped create our own planet are spread across the universe, the researchers discovered. As such, other planets like our own are probably out there “just waiting to be found”.

The study is one of the biggest investigations into how other planetary systems are formed and what materials are used, as well as looking at what that might mean for other Earth-like planets in the galaxy.

Looking for such planets and trying to understand their make-up is difficult because any signals from them are usually completely drowned out by the stars that are near them, the researchers said. So they looked into other ways of examining those planets and examining their composition.

Dwarfs

“Most of the building blocks we have looked at in other planetary systems have a composition similar to that of the Earth,” said researcher Dr Siyi Xu of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii.

The discovery was made by looking at white dwarfs, stars that have shrunk down to be very small and dense, a fate that awaits our own star – the sun – in five billion years.

As they get so small, they pull in other material from nearby. That can then be seen as it moves closer to the star, allowing scientists to explore what the planets that surround it are made of.

Scientists found that most of the planets were made up of the same materials that are beneath our feet.

“This would mean that the chemical elements, the building blocks of earth are common in other planetary systems,” said Dr Xu. “From what we can see, in terms of…these elements, we’re pretty normal. And that means that we can probably expect to find Earth-like planets in our galaxy.”

Independent News Service

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