NASA Just Discovered Seven Earth-Like Worlds

Seven planets orbiting a single star have been discovered 40 light years away from Earth. According to NASA, all of them could support the presence of liquid water (and possibly living organisms). Read on to find out more.

What Exactly Did NASA Find?

The planets are orbiting a star dubbed Trappist-1 and while all of them could potentially support water (under the right atmospheric conditions), only three of them are residing in what is considered a "habitable zone" where it's possible for life as we know it to exist.

The planets were detected by Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

What's The Big Deal With NASA's New Discovery?

This is the first time that this many habitable-zone planets have been found around a single star in another solar system.

Planets orbiting Trappist-1 are likely to be rocky planets. NASA said:

Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated - scientists believe it could be an icy, "snowball-like" world, but further observations are needed.

So, There Could Be Aliens In The Trappist-1 Solar System?

Lisa Kaltenegger, Director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University, told Gizmodo:

Finding several potential habitable planets per star is great news for our search for life.

But let's not get our hopes up. Kaltenegger continued:

If the star is active (as indicated by the X-ray flux) then [a planet in orbit] needs an ozone layer to shield its surface from the harsh UV that would sterilise the surface. If these planets do not have an ozone layer, life would need to shelter underground or in an ocean to survive - and/or develop strategies to shield from the UV.

Hopefully we'll find out more when the James Webb Telescope (which is huge, by the way) is completed next year.

Check out the Video from NASA for more details on this huge discovery.

[NASA]


Comments

    Watching the star for a year they have seen the transits of 7 planets, meaning there will be a periodicity to know they look at 7 and not the same one.

    For those who have not tried planet hunter these see these by watching the brightness of a star, in perfect conditions if you plot the brightness each few minutes you can get what approximates a nice straight line.

    When a planet crosses over the sun, eclipses it, the plot of line dips down.

    Planets spin around their star at a constant speed, so looking at the periodicity of the dips in the straight line you can see that Planet A spins around every x days, Planet B spins around every y days and so on.

    In one year a person could guess they have taken at least 3 and maybe 4 dip measurements for the outermost planet, the innermost spinning a lot faster.

    Knowing the type of star and the mass they can then work out the distance from the star each is.

    “It’s a very small, very compact system,” says ays Emmanual Jehin, a co-author on the study. “The seven planets are all included well inside the orbit of Mercury.”

    'Could' and 'possibly', do not remotely indicate anything definite relating to the planets, therefore "Seven planets were discovered by NASA 40 light years away from Earth, it is unknown if they are able to support living organisms or life as we know it."

      The planets were detected by Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope....followed by a graphic with lovely coloured planets on it. An uneducated person (not a Giz or LH reader, of course) might think that these were actual representations of the planets.

      What a load of garbage. Nowhere does it say this is an artist's impression. There is no way anyone (NASA included) has any idea about the composition, colour, atmosphere or anything else about these planets.

      While I'm in a ranty mood, shouldn't "Nasa's" be "NASA's"?

      Last edited 23/02/17 4:52 pm

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