Scientists from the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhage and the Australian National University have calculated that billions of stars in the Milky Way, the Galaxy Earth is in, will have between one and three planets in the habitable zone.
The researchers believe that these planets have huge reserves of liquid water. They reached this conclusion by using a law from 1766, which led at the discovery of planet Uranus.
The Titius-Bode law has been given a new purpose by the researchers who are willing to expand the range of planets found by the Kepler satellite. Astronomers have found – until now – around 1,900 exoplanets in the Milky Way. Also, other 3,000 potential planetary candidates are awaiting investigation. Most of these planets are very hot, being close to their stars, while planets that could sustain life have been elusive for scientists.
“Using the Titius-Bode law we tried to predict where there could be more planets further out in 151 planetary systems,” said Steffen Jacobsen, a PhD student in the Astrophysics and Planetary Science at the Niels Bohr Institute of Copenhagen.
The Titius-Bode law was also used to predict the location of the Asteroid Belt and the largest object in it, dwarf planet Ceres. It is a mathematical relation which describes the distances of planets from their stars.
Of the 151 multi-planet systems examined by researchers have between three and five planets that have already been discovered. The current study found that a substantial number of these planets had orbits that were explained by the Titius-Bode law.
The researchers are calculating the orbit of the larger planets, and by this they can calculate their position in the planetary system. After applying the Titius-Bode law, the scientists can predict the rbit of any ‘missing’ planets that haven’t been discovered yet.
“Seeing how many systems fit the Titius-Bode relation, I am hopeful that the formula has some predictive power,” said Jacobsen, adding that the current calculations are more precise than previous research.
The scientists expect that the team hopes to discover around 15 percent on the list. After the calculations will be finished, the next step in finding an exoplanet similar to Earth is getting other researchers to help finding these planets where liquid water and life could possible exist.
Image Source: The Telegraph