A team of scientists has found that the planet we live in today is one of its kind and none of the 700 quintillion terrestrial planets in the known universe are similar to Earth.
“A new calculation of exoplanets suggests Earth is just one out of a likely 700 million trillion terrestrial planets in the entire observable universe. But the average age of these planets—well above Earth’s age—and their typical locations—in galaxies vastly unlike the Milky Way—just might turn the Copernican principle on its head,” a report published inScientific American, a US magazine, claims quoting a recent study.
Astronomer Erik Zackrisson and his colleagues from Uppsala University in Sweden created a cosmic compendium of all the terrestrial exoplanets likely to exist throughout the observable universe, the in-depth report suggests.
The team then inputted all the exoplanet data they had found from probes such as NASA’s Kepler space telescope and modeled what would happen to these planets given the known laws of physics.
The results of the study provide a tantalising trove of probable exoplanet statistics that help astronomers understand our place in the universe.
The team discovered that if you bring the model forward 13.8 billion, none of the known 700 quintillion possible planets look like Earth.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling that we’re actually at a point where we can begin to do this,” co-author Andrew Benson from the Carnegie Observatories in California told Scientific American. “It’s certainly the case that there are a lot of uncertainties in a calculation like this. Our knowledge of all of these pieces is imperfect.”
Although there are some drawbacks to the model as the team had to guess how planets might form around stars with fewer heavy elements. But despite these concerns, they say the conclusion is accurate.
“The researchers conclude Earth stands as a mild violation of the Copernican principle,” the magazine says.
It follows research last year, which found Earth may be one of the first habitable planets in the universe. Scientists believe when the solar system formed 4.6 billion years ago, only 8% of the potentially habitable worlds that are destined to exist had formed.
There are believed to be 700 million trillion terrestrial planets in the known universe. Scientists have long believed that among them are worlds similar to our own. This is known as the ‘Copernican principle’, which says states that our planet doesn’t hold a privileged position in the cosmos.