World News

Study Finds Billions of Earth-like Planets

We are not alone.

Scientists say there are billions of Earth-like planets in our Milky Way galaxy that are circling stars just like our sun.

Using data gathered by NASA's Kepler space observatory, astronomers now estimate that about one in five sun-like stars have planets that are nearly the size of Earth and also have a surface temperature conducive to the development of life. That would mean there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.

The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The Kepler mission stops short of delivering key details in the hunt for life on other planets, such as whether these planets have an atmosphere, oxygen or liquid water to support life.

Scientists say the next step is to look for atmospheres on these planets with powerful space telescopes that have yet to be launched. That would yield further clues to whether any of these planets do harbor life.

Feature Story

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama make front page news during Obama's visit to China in February 2012.

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Special Reports