We know we will never suffer a Mars attack as, thanks to rover, we can see the planet harbours no life. But, once again the big question, what are the chances of life in some form or other existing elsewhere? Well, technology has advanced so much in the last few years, and that includes astronomy, our knowledge has expanded at the rate of knots and, I would imagine, will go ever faster until the day comes when we will know for certain about alien existence. Our world is very small. Our world is miniscule, our world is a drop in a vast ocean. Where does it rate in the scheme of things? A new study suggests that every star in the night sky is host to 1.6 planets. (Don’t ask me how you get .6 of a planet because I don’t know) but this implies there are some – wait for it because this is staggering, take a deep breath – there are some 10 billion earth-sized planets in our galaxy. Ten billion! How does a hitch-hiker get around that?Using a technique called gravitational microlensing, an international team found a handful of exoplanets that imply the existence of billions more. Gravitational microlensing is a method that uses the gravity of a far-flung star to amplify the light from even more distant stars that have planets. While the number of actual events and detected planets was low, the team was able to estimate how many such exoplanets must exist.
Researchers from more than 20 international institutes and universities have worked on this. “Just the recent 15 years have seen the count of known planets beyond the Solar System rising from none to about 700, but we can expect hundreds of billions to exist in the Milky Way alone,” said co-author Dr Martin Dominik, from the University of St Andrews. Astronomers used a number of relatively small telescopes that make up the Microlensing Network for the detection of small terrestrial exoplanets to look for the rare event of one star passing directly in front of another as seen from Earth.
The team witnessed 40 of these microlensing events, and in three instances spotted the effects of planets circling the more distant stars. While the number of actual events and detected planets was low, the team was able to estimate how many such exoplanets must exist.
Gravitational microlensing can find planets of all sizes and distances. It can currently spot a planet as small as Mercury, orbiting at a similar distance to its host star, or as far away as Saturn.
Obviously infinity is a reality and the question I have to ask is where in the human mindset does god come into all this? And what price astrology?