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Milky Way Has Tens of Billions of Habitable Planets

These super-Earths are all over the galaxy, say scientists
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2012 3:36 PM CDT

(Newser) – Could aliens be hanging out in the Milky Way? A new discovery by astronomers shows they'd have plenty of possible homes in the galaxy, reports Reuters. The researchers found that tens of billions of planets reside in a habitable zone close to a star, allowing water to flow on the surface and the right temperature to sustain life.

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The European team found that habitable super-Earths—planets one to 10 times the mass of Earth—orbit roughly 40% of the 160 billion red dwarf stars in the Milky Way. It would still be tough for little green men to survive, though. In order for these super-Earths to have water, they'd need to be very close to the relatively cold red dwarfs, thus allowing lethal UV rays and radiation to permeate their atmospheres. (Read more Milky Way stories.)

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