NASA Telescope Finds Seven Earth-Sized Planets in Habitable Zone Around a Single Star

Posted on February 22, 2017

NASA researchers have announced the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone around a single star. It is the most habitable-zone planets discovered around a single star so far. The star is located about 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. Even if none of these planets end up having life it certainly suggests there are many such planets in the Universe.

The exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1 because the first exoplanet in the system was discovered using the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. The first planets in the system were discovered using TRAPPIST and several ground-based telescopes. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope confirmed the existence of two of the planets and discovered five more. The illustration shows the possible surface of TRAPPIST-1f, one of the seven planets.

Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium, says in the announcement, "The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star. It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds."

NASA says in a statement that the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. A research paper on the seven planets was published in Nature. NASA also has an information site on the exoplanets here. There is also a website called Trappist-1 with information, videos and posters. Here is a video about the system from NASA. Take a look:

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