The Universe: Even Bigger Than We Thought

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NASA may have found a bacterium that thinks arsenic makes for a tasty dinner, but astronomers from Yale University believe alien life forms might be three times as easy (ahem, relatively speaking) to find as originally thought. The research has found that there are actually around 20 times more red dwarf stars out there than first thought--an figure that’s so significantly large that it could mean the universe is triple the currently believed size.

Astronomers made the discovery using powerful telescopes and tools at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, which were able to detect red dwarfs in eight new galaxies, between 50 and 300 million light years away. Before, astronomers could only detect the small and dim red dwarf stars in our own galaxy (the Milky Way) and its neighbors.

So, by looking into stars and finding eight more galaxies, it means there could be more planets orbiting stars, meaning a greater chance of discovering ulterior life forms.

Yale University’s Pieter van Dokkum led the research, and believes that thanks to these extra stars, there could easily be atmospheres for life very similar to Earth’s. “There are possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars. It’s one reason why people are interested in this type of star.”

This is pretty big news if the astronomers’ predictions turn out to be true, as another Earth could help us find aliens much quicker. Now it just needs someone like NASA to get out there and get investigating.

[Keck Observatory via Gizmodo / Photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video on Flickr; used under Creative Commons]

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