Incredible announcement from NASA reveals the discovery of 7 potentially habitable earth-like planets outside our solar system! Orbiting a star 40 light years away 3 of these 7 planets are in the habitable zone where liquid water can pool on the surface. In fact with the right atmospheric conditions any of these planets could possibly have water. Because of this, of all the discovered planets these 7 are the best to follow-up on. With this discovery NASA feels that finding a second earth is no longer a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ The question of alien life on another planet is now more answerable than ever.
This is the first time ever that so many earth size planets have been found to orbit the same star. The star, Trappist 1, is much smaller and cooler than our sun therefore the planet’s orbit it in a much tighter and closer circle. Furthermore, since they are orbiting so close to the star it is very likely that they are continually facing the same side towards the sun like the moon to the earth. In this case, therefore, the view from any one of these planets would be a spectacular view similar to the one of earth from the moon.
Discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope these exoplanets, planets outside our solar system, are relatively close to earth, a mere 235 trillion miles. This discovery opens a whole new area of explorable space and is a remarkable step towards answering that question “Are we alone?” In May 2016 researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven. In a couple of years Hubble’s successor NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will conduct follow-up observations to find out more about the atmospheres of these remarkable planets. NASA should launch the telescope in October 2018 and by April 2018 we should have some new very interesting data.
Scientists believe the Trappist-1 system to be very stable because since the star, an ultracool dwarf, is pretty dim and pretty old it’s much more likely to exhibit stable qualities and probably isn’t inundating its planets with any radiation or stellar flares.
All this new data and all the data that JWST ( ) will find are stepping-stones to more potential telescopes which will enable us to investigate further and further into the mysteries of space and alien life. James Webb Program Director Eric Smith says that ” This is a tremendously exciting possibility for the JWST, and we most certainly will observe this system, but it’s also part of a long chain of astronomy and telescopes improving upon another. Even though it will be the biggest telescope put out into space we know it won’t be the last because there will be more questions to ask.”