Less than an hour ago NASA held a press conference in which they made one of the most exciting announcements to date in regards to the search for extraterrestrial and planets outside of our solar system that could be capable of supporting life.
It is thought to be one of the most significant discoveries outside of our solar system.
For the first time ever, NASA has found a total of seven planets orbiting a single star, at least three of which are in the so-called “habitable” zone and could have liquid water.
According to the popular science blog IFLS:
The system is around a star called TRAPPIST-1, a small ultra-cool dwarf star 40 light-years away that’s about 8 percent the mass of our Sun and 11 percent its radius, similar in size to Jupiter. Last year, it was revealed that three potentially rocky worlds orbited this star, and now this new study has found four more.
A paper describing the incredible findings, led by Michaël Gillon of the University of Liège in Belgium, was published today in Nature. The discovery was made using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and a variety of ground-based telescopes, including TRAPPIST-South in Chile, to observe the transits of the planets relative to us as they passed across their star.
“The star is so small and cold that the planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water and maybe life by extension on the surface,” Gillon said in a press briefing.
The seven planets have varying orbital periods, which are drastically shorter than the planets in our solar system due to the star’s small size.
Scientists hope to be able to study these planets in depth over the coming years and decades as new and more sophisticated telescopes and observational tools are developed and deployed.
Scientists say that we could know if the planets are possibly inhabited within a decade and maybe even much sooner as observatories all over the world are already turning to this star system.