With the recent announcement by NASA of the discovery of over 1200 new extrasolar planets, it’s abundantly clear that it is more likely the universe is teeming with planets, pushing up the probability of habitable worlds being readily available throughout the cosmos.
A new study which is co-authored by Woodruff Sullivan and Adam Frank goes into more detail, highlighting that the odds of there being no other intelligent lifeforms throughout the universe is actually extremely slim.
“Even if you are pretty pessimistic and think that you’d have to search through 100 billion (habitable zone) planets before you found one where a civilization developed, then there have still been a trillion civilizations over cosmic history !” wrote Frank. “When I think about that, my mind reels – even if there is just a one in a 100 billion chance of evolution creating exo-civilizations, the universe still has made so many of them that we are swamped by histories other than our own.”
Part of the study includes a revised equation created by famous astronomer Frank Drake which he used back in 1961, used to try and estimate the number of planets that could be home to intelligent alien civilizations.
“With so many stars and planets filling the cosmos, it boggles the mind to think that we’re the only clever life to have made an appearance,” said SETI’s Seth Shostak. “Frank and Sullivan use new research indicating that roughly one in five stars is orbited by a planet that could nurture biology.”