NASA discovered a new solar system about 40 light years from Earth. life may have at least three planets says NASA.
Astronomers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) have detected no less than seven roughly Earth-sized worlds orbiting a dwarf star in the system, it was announced today.
However, the new system contains an unprecedented number of Earth-sized, probably rocky planets, and is being hailed as an “accelerated leap forward” in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Three of the new planets are said to be particularly promising because they could sustain oceans. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate, told a press conference in Washington: “This gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’.”
The planets were detected using Nasa’s Spitzer Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories. Lead researcher Michaël Gillon, of the University of Liège, said: “The planets are all close to each other and very close to the star, which is very reminiscent of the moons around Jupiter.
“Still, the star is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water – and maybe life, by extension – on the surface.”
The team determined that all the planets in the system are similar in size to Earth and Venus, or slightly smaller. And density measurements suggest that at least the innermost six planets are rocky. Because the star is so dim, the planets are warmed gently despite having orbits much smaller than that of Mercury, the planet closest to our Sun.
IMG: The Trappist robotic telescope at La Silla, Chile