Ready for next step in finding alien life

As more exoplanets are found, "other earths" become more likely

(AP Photo/ European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere)

(WTNH) — A Yale University professor, citing the discoveries of more Earth-like planets around nearby stars, says the next step is finding out which ones could harbor life.

Speaking at an astronomy conference in Seattle, Dr. Debra Fischer says many of the so-called exoplanets, now being discovered at a rate of several each day, are giving indications they have the same chemical composition as Earth. Add liquid water to that mix, and the chances increase for life evolving — even intelligent life.

Fischer told a press conference that astronomers now believe almost every star — and there are a hundred billion of them in the Milky Way galaxy alone — have planetary systems orbiting them. Considering the first exoplanet was discovered only 20-years ago, it’s a huge shift from “is there life out there?” to “how MUCH life might be out there?”

Fischer said the next step is closer study of the potentially habitable planets, whether they actually DO harbor life, and if we can, so to speak, go there for a closer look. That day may come in the next 50-years, according to the Yale professor. That’s a tall order, considering the closest star to Earth is 25-trillion miles away. Then again, just two decades ago, we thought the only planet similar to Earth, was Earth.

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