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NASA Discovers Seven Earth-size Planets, 39 LY Away From Earth

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illustration provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows an artist’s conception of what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about their diameters, masses and distances from the host star (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)
NASA announced a new system of exoplanets which are Earth-size and could hold potentially life.
A system of seven planets in a system called TRAPPIST-1 is the highlight of the discovery. NASA has named the system of planets ‘Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope,’ which is located in Chile.  This telescope first discovered three of the planets in this system in May 2016. According to NASA, along with the assistance of other big telescopes, and the European Space telescope called Spitzer, the existence of two of these planets was confirmed. In addition to these two, five more planets were discovered by Spitzer.

Any life that gained a foothold and the capacity to look up would have a remarkable view from a Trappist-1 world. From the fifth planet, considered the most habitable, the salmon-pink star would loom 10 times larger than the sun in our sky. Illustration: Nasa/JPL-Caltech
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The host star in TRAPPIST-1 is classified as an ultra-cool dwarf, The ultra-cool dwarf has a lower mass than the Sun, and also much lower temperatures. That means even if planets are orbiting close to the dwarf star, it is so cool than even liquid water may exist on these planets.

The top row shows an artist’s conception of the seven planets of Trappist-1 with their orbital periods, distances from their star, radii and masses as compared to those of Earth. The bottom row shows data about Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The ultracool star shines 200 times dimmer than our sun, so you’d have twilight at all times on these planets, and the star glows red. The sun is no bigger than the planet Jupiter in our solar system.

NASA’s telescopes show that the planets are closer to the host star than planet Mercury is to our Sun.

According to NASA’s own press statement, “If a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighbouring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.”

Unlike Earth, which rotates on its axis, the planets are “tidally locked to the star.” That means one side of the planet has only day, and one side has only night. It also means the weather conditions may be like Earth.

The planets are Earth-sized. “The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star,” said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium in NASA’s press statement. “It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds.”

Scientists said they need to study the atmospheres before determining whether these rocky, terrestrial planets could support some sort of life. But it already shows just how many Earth-size planets could be out there. Two planets closest to the host star have already shown signs of no puffy atmosphere, meaning they are potentially rocky in nature.

TRAPPIST-1 holds the record for the greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.

Spitzer, Hubble and Kepler will do initial surveys of the exoplanets ahead of NASA’s launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.

Here’s a video from Youtube posted by NASA

[youtube src=”f37W81C38lw”/]

According to NASA’s statement, the new Web telescope will “detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planet’s atmosphere,” along with temperature, surface pressure, etc to know if these planets can be inhabited by life in the future.

Notice the new @GoogleDoodles? It’s about the 7 Earth-sized planets we discovered around nearby star! Get the news: https://t.co/G9tW3cJMnV pic.twitter.com/dOHB0bLqXn

— NASA (@NASA) February 23, 2017

[info icon=”info-circle”] Source: NASA. Credit: TheGuardian, The Indian Express. [/info]

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