Complex life may exist on 100 million planets within the Milky Way

A new study claims that the Milky Way is home to a hundred million planets where alien life could exist. And not just simple microbial life, but complex alien life.

A scientific team consisting of Louis Irwin of the University of Texas at El Paso, Alberto Feyren of Cornell University, Abel Mendez of the Planet Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University analyzed an expanding list of confirmed exoplanets (currently 4,461), then estimated density, temperature, substrate, chemical composition, distance from the parent star and age of each planet.

The team used this information to calculate a biological complexity index (BCI), rating these planets on a scale of 0 to 1.0 according to the characteristics that are thought to be important for supporting multicellular life.

Professor Schulze-Makuch explains:

“The BCI calculation showed that 1 to 2 percent of known exoplanets have a BCI rating higher than Jupiter’s moon Europa, which has a subsurface global ocean that could be hospitable to life.”

“Based on an estimate of 10 billion stars in the Milky Way and assuming an average of one planet per star, that yields a figure of 100 million. Some scientists believe that number could be 10 times higher.”

Schulze-Makucz also tries to emphasize that the study does not claim that complex life definitively exists on a hundred million planets. It only points out that the necessary conditions to sustain life can exist on so many planets.

The team’s study was published in the journal Challenges in an article entitled “Assessing the Possibility of Biological Complexity on Other Worlds with an Assessment of the Occurrence of Complex Life in the Milky Way Galaxy.”

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