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Earth is one of the Universe's first habitable planets, and most are yet to be born

At approximately 13.8 billion years old, the Universe might appear like it's been around for a way too long time, but a recent study proposes that Earth is one of the first habitable planets to form - and we're perhaps too early to the party to get a real opportunity to meet future alien civilizations. The research examined the data from the Hubble and Kepler space telescopes, and forecast that 92 percent of the Universe's livable planets have yet to be born. And most of them won't form until after our Sun burns out in next 6 million years'. It's kind of sad to anticipate that, as a planet, we may have peaked way too early. But there is another way to look at it is the fact that we're most likely to be one of the only civilizations with the capacity to look back at the birth of the Universe.
Image Credit: NASA

The Space Telescope Science Institute in the US, which led the research explains "Any far-future civilisations that might arise will be largely clueless as to how or if the Universe began and evolved," Lead researcher Peter Behroozi said "Our main motivation was understanding the Earth's place in the context of the rest of the universe. Compared to all the planets that will ever form in the Universe, the Earth is actually quite early." The scientists used the Hubble and Kepler space telescopes to look as far away as we possibly can - which, when you're looking in space, which at the same time also means we are also looking as far back in time as we possibly can - to understand how many stars have formed by now, and how many can form in the future.

They found that even though the Universe was producing stars at a much quicker rate about 10 billion years ago, it only used a minute fraction of the Universe's hydrogen and helium. Which means that although star production has decelerated down, it can keep going for a very, very long time.

The scientists also used the data to forecast that future Earths are more likely to appear within galaxy clusters and dwarf galaxies, which have yet to use up all their gas formaking stars and accompanying planetary systems. Our Milky Way Galaxy, instead, is all tapped out.

Planet Earth is in the first 8 percent, and who really knows what the next 100 trillion years, and the other 92 percent of livable planets, will bring. As the Space Telescope Science Institute puts it: "That's plenty of time for literally anything to happen on the planet landscape."

Literally anything, except us being around to see it L. The study has been issued in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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