NASA has found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, which circle a parent star, and could potentially have life.
The parent star is located around 40 light years away from Earth, and is called TRAPPIST-1. The orientation of the orbits means that they can be studied in detail. The astronomers have said that one or more of the planets in the solar system could have the right temperature to have water.
The findings were published in the journal, Nature, on Wednesday.
“Here, if life managed to thrive and releases gases similar to that we have on Earth, then we will know,” said Amaury H.M.J. Triaud, a member of the research team at a NASA news conference.
The position of the planets means that instead of speculating, astronomers will be able to make careful observations and see what is in the atmospheres of the Trappist planets, said astronomer Sara Seager.
However, the Trappist-1 is not similar to our sun. It as only one-twelfth the mass of the sun and a much cooler surface temperature than the sun. At the news conference, one of the scientists said that “if our sun were the size of a basketball, Trappist-1 would be a golf ball”.
Even if there was no life on any of these planets, scientists could find out what stops these planets from producing life.
The Earth-size planets are close to the Trappist. The innermost planets completes orbiting in 1.5 days, and the farthest in 20 days. Thus the fact that they are so close to the dwarf star could mean that they might have the right temperatures for water.
The discovery is so exciting that Google has even dedicated its doodle to NASA’s exploration.