Astronomers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have discovered not one, not two, but seven roughly Earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star in the system.
According to report which surfaced on Wednesday, February 22, the planets were detected using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories.
This discovery, which has thrilled astronomers, has raised hopes that the hunt for alien life beyond the solar system could start much sooner than previously thought.
Here are some facts to know about the new planets:
1. They can sustain organic life
According to scientists, three of the seven planets found appear to be rocky in nature. Also it looks like the temperatures on the surface are capable of sustaining liquid water and, therefore, oceans.
This means that the search for alien life might finally be successful as scientists will soon begin investigating the molecular make-up of the exoplanets.
2. Future of the planets
While a lot of people doubt life will be found on the planet, according to scientist speculation, the TRAPPIST-1 is relatively young and will still be in its infancy once our own sun has exhausted its fuel and been destroyed – an alarming notion.
So it will last 700 times longer than our universe and ample time to evolve organic life, according to Ignas Snellen of the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.
3. How they were discovered
Nasa researchers discovered the new solar system and its planet using the Trappist robotic telescope by observing the passage of planets as they drifted by host stars.
This is how they did it: In passing, celestial bodies obscure a small amount of light and cast shadows, a phenomenon that serves to indicate their size, mass and shape. Having traced 34 such transits using a Spitzer telescope, the scientists were able to confirm the presence of the seven spheres.
4. The planets will be darker and warmer than earth
The planets will according to scientists experience 200 times less light than earth.
It will be dimmer than earth, yet, the planets would nevertheless be just as warm as they experience much the same heat energy as we do from our sun, albeit transmitted as infrared rays.
5. More planets will be discovered
Meanwhile, astronomers say there could still be an additional 40 billion potentially habitable worlds sitting just inside our galaxy, along the Milky Way.
Below is a video of the new discovery: