Astronomers have found at least 45 planets orbiting distant stars that possess Earth-like qualities including a similar atmosphere and life sustaining liquid water.
Experts from Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, created a new way to determine the habitability of these distant worlds by studying their atmosphere.
The team found a way to use information on ‘atmospheric species’, that is chemicals in the atmosphere, and how fast they escape into space to determine how close an exoplanet is in terms of temperature and composition to the Earth.
They then used their new model on the 55 potentially habitable worlds listed in the existing exoplanet catalogue – which focuses on habitable zone and the host star.
Only 17 of the 55 planets in the catalogue met the criteria defined by the Swedish researchers for being ‘Earth-like’ but the team found another 28 planets on the wider exoplanet list that also met the criteria – bringing the total of Earth-like worlds to 45.