Crop of New Planets Means Better Chance of Life

Rapid discovery of planets outside our solar system ups odds one has liquid water
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2007 7:07 AM CDT
This artist's concept shows the newly discovered Neptune-sized extrasolar planet circling the star Gliese 436.   (KRT Photos)

(Newser) – Astronomers who've spotted 28 new planets in the past year are gaining confidence that other solar systems may be able to support life like ours. One researcher estimated that there are probably "tens of billions" of planets with habitable conditions, most important of which is hospitality to water.

"We are beginning to see that our home is not a rarity in the universe," said the astronomer who led the team, at a conference in Honolulu yesterday. But some watered exoplanets still may be a wash: The elliptical orbits of most other planets discovered so far would cause extreme temperature variations hostile to life.