A new estimate of the number of habitable planets orbiting the most common type of stars in our galaxy could have huge consequences for the search for life.
According to a recent study, tens of billions of planets around red dwarfs are likely capable of containing liquid water, dramatically increasing the potential to find signs of life somewhere other than Earth.
So, even though the habitable zone is smaller and there’s a greater chance of high radiation exposure due to its proximity to the star, the sheer number of red dwarfs (they make up 80% of our galaxy) and their relatively long lives make them very good candidates for life.
Now, of course, all we have to do is get there! Well, not really. We can do a great deal with the technology we both have now and will have within the next couple of decades. Advanced telescopes and orbital transit spectroscopy will be able to determine the chemical makeup of these planets’ atmospheres, and determine whether they’re capable of supporting life as we currently understand it.
Combine this with the very real possibility that we may have already found life on Mars – and had it in our hands for the last 35 years – and these are exciting times.