Their calculations, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, show that billions of stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is a potential for liquid water and where life could exist.

The team from the Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen made calculations based on a new version of a 250-year-old method called the Titius-Bode law.The Titius-Bode law was formulated around 1770 and correctly calculated the position of Uranus before it was even discovered.

"In these 31 planetary systems that were close to the habitable zone, our calculations showed that there was an average of two planets in the habitable zone. According to the statistics and indications we have, a good share of the planets in the habitable zone will be solid planets where there might be liquid water and where life could exist," explains Steffen Kjaer Jacobsen. Using NASA's Kepler satellite, astronomers have found about 1,000 planets around stars in the Milky Way and they have also found about 3,000 other potential planets.Many of the stars have planetary systems with two-to-six planets, but the stars could very well have more planets than those observable with the Kepler satellite, which is best suited for finding large planets that orbit relatively close to their stars.

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