NASA Telescope Discovers Seven Planets Outside Earth’s Solar System
By Victor Ernest with NASA report
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that Scientists using the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes have discovered that there are seven Earth-size planets around a single star.
According to NASA, three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.
The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside the Earth’s solar system scientifically known as exoplanets.
According to researchers, all of the seven planets could have liquid water which is a key to life especially under the right atmospheric conditions, ”but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone”.
”This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
”Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal,” he said.
Exoplanets close to Earth
NASA further said that the planets are about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth which means that the system of planets are relatively close to planet Earth.
This exoplanet system is also called TRAPPIST-1, named for the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile.
In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system.
Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.
The new results were published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington.