NASA Discovers Seven Earth-Like Exoplanets
Ashley Allen / 3 years ago
US astronautics organisation NASA has announced that it has found seven exoplanets orbiting a single star which are of of comparable size to Earth; three of the planets have orbits within what is known as the Goldilocks zone – which means possessing an orbit which may be capable of sustaining human life, while the other four may be warm enough to support liquid water. The septet of planets – in orbit of the dwarf star Trappist-1, part of the Aquarius constellation, which is 39 light years from us – were discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope
“The star is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water and maybe life, by extension, on the surface,” Michaël Gillon, an astrophysicist at the University of Liège, told The Guardian.
While all seven planets may be capable of sustaining life, the three Goldilocks planets have the best chance of possessing a habitable climate and atmosphere.
“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, told the NASA website. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”
NASA’s findings on the seven exoplanets orbiting Trappist-1 were published in Nature [PDF] this week.