NASA finds new seven earth-sized planets, TRAPPIST-1
"We have made a crucial step towards finding life out there," said co-author Amaury Triaud, a scientist at the University of Cambridge.
In a stunning discovery, Researchers on Wednesday announced the discovery of 7 Earth-like planets orbiting a small star in our galaxy.
In the journal Nature, researchers said that all the 7 roughly match the size and mass of our own planet and are almost certainly rocky, and three are perfectly perched to harbour life-nurturing oceans of water.
Most critically, their proximity to Earth and the dimness of their red dwarf star, called TRAPPIST-1, will allow astronomers to parse each one's atmosphere in search of chemical signatures of biological activity.
"We have made a crucial step towards finding life out there," said co-author Amaury Triaud, a scientist at the University of Cambridge. "Up to now, I don't think we have had the right planets to find out," he said in a press briefing. "Now we have the right target."
The TRAPPIST-1 system is mere 39 light years distant and has the largest number of Earth-sized planets known to orbit a single star. It is also within the "temperate zone" - not so hot that water evaporates, nor so cold that it freezes rock-solid.
The discovery adds to growing evidence that our home galaxy, the Milky Way, may be populated with tens of billions of worlds not unlike our own - far more than previously suspected.