Saturday, 9 November 2013
8.8 Billion Earth-Sized Planets Found?
An artist's impression of Kepler-69c. Image courtesy of NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech.
Science headlines in the popular press are often interesting. Recently, Fox news entertained us with this “fact”: At least 8.8 billion Earth-size, just-right planets found, study says.
This reminds one of the buzz that occurs each time a new fossil is found. The headlines almost always get it wrong – very wrong.
So what did astronomers actually find?
According to Fox news, “Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone. The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.”
The number (i.e., 8.8 billion) is merely an assumption, however. Later on the article states: “Kepler has identified only 10 planets that are about Earth's size circling sun-like stars and are in the habitable zone, including one called Kepler 69-c.”
There’s still no place like home.
At least 8.8 billion Earth-size, just-right planets found, study says. Fox news. 5 November 2013.