NASA scientists, using the Hubble Space Telescope, have probably found 16 planets in the Milky Way.
Over the past 15 years, astronomers have identified more than 200 planets outside our solar system, but the new ones identified by the Hubble are at least 10 times as far from Earth.
That planets can be found at the center of the galaxy, as well as near our solar system, has given NASA researchers confidence that they are likely to be everywhere. If that is the case, then the likelihood of other Earth-like planets becomes greater.
"We all are dreamers, and part of that dream is to find life somewhere," said Mario Livio, head of the science program at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which oversees Hubble operations. "We're finding that the galaxy is full of planets, and the chances are, somewhere out there, we will find one with the conditions necessary to be habitable."
Scientists estimate based on the number of planets identified and the number of starts in the Milky way that there could be as many as 6 billion Jupiter-size planets in the galaxy.