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Space & Astronomy

7 Earth-sized worlds found around nearby star

By T.K. Randall
February 22, 2017 · Comment icon 95 comments

This is what it might be like to stand on one of these new worlds. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA has announced the discovery of seven new planets including three within their star's habitable zone.
The remarkable find marks the first time that so many Earth-sized worlds have ever been found within a single solar system. The star, Trappist-1, is situated around 40 light years away.

Even more intriguing is the fact that three of these planets are located within the star's habitable zone - the region in which the temperature is "just right" for liquid water to exist.

The news is particularly exciting because with the next generation of telescopes it should be possible to determine exactly what type of atmosphere these worlds have.

According to Amaury Triaud at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University, we may even be able to determine whether or not there is life on these planets within as little as ten years.
"I think we've made a crucial step in finding out if there's life out there," he said. "If life managed to thrive and releases gases in a similar way as on Earth, we will know."

Another interesting aspect of these planets is that they are quite close together, meaning that if you stood on the surface of one you would see the others in the sky just as we see the Moon.

"It would be a beautiful show," said Triaud.

The next step will be to use the Hubble Space Telescope to look for signs of methane and water - a potential indication of a habitable world. Beyond that, there is a chance that the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be to tell us whether or not something is living there.

"This means we might be in the business of looking for aliens in a decade, and not, as others have envisioned, on a much longer timescale," said Professor David Charbonneau.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (95)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #86 Posted by Merc14 6 years ago
Well Waspie runs a pretty tight ship here so it tends to stay on the science side here
Comment icon #87 Posted by Parsec 6 years ago
Oh gosh, I knew you would have pulled out from your hat the solar "wind". Nevermind, I also see you are well entreched in your ideas and not interested in testing them to see if/how much you are "wooing" or not. And you are the one putting words in other people's mouths. For all these reasons it's pointless for me to continue engaging in this "conversation". I will leave the fun to others, if someone will feel the need to point out all your wrong logic. Live long and prosper.
Comment icon #88 Posted by taniwha 6 years ago
Sure. Cheers.
Comment icon #89 Posted by Silent Trinity 6 years ago
I was referring to "old thinking", such as those who thought the Earth was flat. The power of hindsight was my point. Back when Galileo was being ridiculed for defending Heliocentrism there was plenty of that thinking going on.....
Comment icon #90 Posted by Merc14 6 years ago
I don't think you need to g back that far ST, seriously, look back just a couple of decades, before we knew just how many planets there really were, and you'll see that most thought life would be rare in the universe, that the conditions were so hard to get right that very few planets could even support it. Fast forward to today and it is just the opposite.
Comment icon #91 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
The belief in the likelihood of life existing elsewhere has waxed and waned. Here is a quote from The Astronomer's Telescope, written in 1962 by the famous British astronomer Patrick Moore: "Mars is certainly a fascinating world. It has an atmosphere, though we could not breathe it; it has a little water, since the white polar caps are certainly made up of some icy or frosty deposit; and very probably it supports vegetation. But we do not believe men live there, and even animals are not likely to be found." The optimistic beliefthat Mars very probably supports vegetation was ended just three... [More]
Comment icon #92 Posted by Merc14 6 years ago
It is truly amazing how much our understanding of our solar system, galaxy and universe has changed in my lifetime.
Comment icon #93 Posted by psyche101 6 years ago
I hope so. Id like to hear how the follow up this year went. Have not been able to find anything myself on the latest observations. And I hope it wasn't comets just between you and me
Comment icon #94 Posted by Derek Willis 6 years ago
What amazes me is that the wow! factor of these discoveries never diminishes. For example, the first Mars missions I can remember are the Mariner 6 and 7 fly-bysin 1969. Back then I hada terrestrial hand-held telescope which my dad helped me make a stand for. All I could see of Mars was a tiny red speck of light, but I remember the wow! of seeing the images sent back by the probes. Then in 1971 there was Mariner 9, which went into orbit and transmitted images of huge volcanoes and ancient river systems. In July of 1976 I bunked off school to see the first images of the surface sent back by V... [More]
Comment icon #95 Posted by taniwha 6 years ago
That is a brilliant snippet from the past, thanks for posting it. Envisioning what life might be like on other worlds is a harmless practise. It leads to interesting ideas and discussions and perhaps greater understanding. I do not know why some people are offended by any new idea that is alien to their own personal interpretation of life beyond earth. To dream is to see. If that wasn't the case it would have been pointless even mounting cameras on mariner 4. Surely all space technology designed to answer the question of exo life , requires the greatest measures of foresight? Hence why such ... [More]

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