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Space & Astronomy

Excitement mounts over Earth-like exoplanets

By T.K. Randall
July 20, 2016 · Comment icon 10 comments

Have astronomers discovered two potentially habitable alien worlds ? Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have identified two distant worlds which could be ideal places to look for alien life.
The two planets, which can be found orbiting the star Trappist-1 at a distance of approximately 39 light-years from the Earth, are situated within what is known as the Goldilocks zone - a region in which the temperature is just right to enable liquid water to exist on a planet's surface.

When these two worlds were discovered back in May there was much excitement as the conditions there seemed to make them prime candidates in the hunt for habitable extrasolar planets.

Now scientists have revealed that these two distant worlds are not only an ideal distance from their parent star but also appear to be rocky terrestrial planets like the Earth and Mars as oppose to gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn - another major factor in favor of their suitability for life.
"These are the first planets that combine the three key properties we have been looking for for quite a long time," said MIT's Dr Julien de Wit. "One, they are Earth-sized; two, temperature, they could have liquid water; and third, they are close enough and around the right type of star for us to actually check [for evidence of life]."

"In five to 10 years we will be able to say if they are habitable, to check if they are the right temperature and with water. And then the next step forward is to assess whether they are inhabited… to look for traces of gas that can only be produced by life."

"This can be done in the next 10 to 25 years."

The hunt for extraterrestrial life, it seems, could soon become very interesting indeed.

Source: Independent | Comments (10)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by MJNYC 7 years ago
Very exciting! 
Comment icon #2 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
I'd be excited if they had some way to get there within my lifetime to verify... 
Comment icon #3 Posted by Astra. 7 years ago
"I'll drink to that dear even when I'm 90"     
Comment icon #4 Posted by kartikg 7 years ago
Where does the water come from?   If the planet is in goldilocks zone it can still be dry what's the origin of water? 
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
I just hope the "Goldilocks Zone" doesn't have a Papa, Mama and Baby Bear waiting for us.
Comment icon #6 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
I think it depends on what type of Atmosphere is there.  And just because life on Earth needs water, it doesn't mean alien life does.  They could have a completely different substance that serves the same purpose for them.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
Extraordinarily unlikely. Water has some fairly unique properties, It is also very simple and very common. Basic chemistry tells us that life is highly likely to be carbon based and use water.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
Hydrogen and oxygen are the most abundant elements in the universe and they don't need much encouragement to become water. Just putting them together in the same space normally does it. Considering water is everywhere in our solar system (comets, moons, etc) it's very likely that it's prolific throughout the galaxy. Whether or not the planet can hold onto it's atmosphere is another story, as in the case of Mars. Mars once had vast amounts of water but has since lost most of it to space. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
Comment icon #10 Posted by Astra. 7 years ago
I would think that if these planets were the same distance to their sun - as similar to our Earth. Then wouldn't these planets also have clouds that are formed by droplets of water vapor / and or ice crystals due to the type of moisture and or type of humidity that may exist on these planets...and therefore produce rain ?...also I wonder if the vegetation such as plants etc...would be similar to ours ? I was also wondering if these planets have their own moon - such as we do ?... What would it mean if they didn't - such as not having a gravitational tidal pull etc...for 'possible' large bodies... [More]

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