SOURCE: Universe Today
Feb 18 2008
Astronomers have found numerous Jupiter-like planets orbiting other stars. But because of the limits of our current technology, they havenâ€™t yet found any other terrestrial Earth-like planets out in the universe. But new findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that terrestrial planets might form around many, if not most, of the nearby sun-like stars in our galaxy. So perhaps, other worlds with the potential for life might be more common than we thought.
A group of astronomers led by Michael Meyer of the University of Tucson, Arizona used Spitzer to survey six sets of stars with masses comparable to our sun, and grouped them by age. "We wanted to study the evolution of the gas and dust around stars similar to the sun and compare the results with what we think the solar system looked like at earlier stages during its evolution," Meyer said. Our sun is about 4.6 billion years old.
They found that at least 20 percent, and possibly as many as 60 percent, of stars similar to the sun are candidates for forming rocky planets.
Planet-hunters set for big bounty