Scientists discover 7 'Earthlike' planets orbiting a nearby star

Researchers have said that the sighting will provide a laboratory of sorts that will enable them to study distant worlds and the possibility of a search for signs of life beyond Earth.

Adam Widmer | Feb 28, 2017

On Wednesday, scientists announced that they had discovered a new Solar system just 39 light years away comprising of seven warm rocky planets.

The discovery was reported in the Journal Nature, and it is the first time Astronomers have stumbled upon so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star, in recent history.

Researchers have said that the sighting will provide a laboratory of sorts that will enable them to study distant worlds and the possibility of a search for signs of life beyond Earth.

"Now we have seven Earth-sized planets to expand our understanding. Yes, we have the possibility to find water and life. But even if we don't, whatever we find will be super-interesting." said lead author Michal Gillon, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Liege in Belgium.

The newly discovered Solar system is a miniature version of ours and comprises of a cool star at the center called Trappist-1 which is approximately a tenth of our Sun. The new planets circle Trappist-1, with the closest one taking a day and a half, while the furthest takes 20 days. If these planets were to orbit a larger brighter star, they would all fry but Trappist-1 is not hot, and researchers say it holds just the right amount of warmth to keep liquid water.

It is still early to tell if the planets can sustain life and researchers need more time to study them and look for signs of oxygen, water, methane and carbon dioxide; the molecules scientists consider being vital to animal and planting life support.

 

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