Is humanity alone in the universe? It’s a question that mankind has grappled with for literal ages, and while Hollywood has spent decades feeding our curiosity with depictions of little green men and pew-pewing lasers, scientists have taken a more cautious approach. For life (at least as we know it) to exist on other planets, those planets must be capable of supporting life. Now, new research shows there are considerably more of these types of planets out there than previously thought.
Such planets, known as Earth-like planets or ocean worlds, must be a similar size to Earth, orbit a sun-like star and be a rocky (or terrestrial) planet. It needs to orbit its star (called G-type stars) within a habitable zone, so the temperature is not too hot or too cold, and it’s able to host liquid water. Typically, such planets are hard to find, given their small size and distance from their stars, but thanks to new research techniques, scientists now think there could be as many as six billion earth-like planets across our galaxy.