Astronomers have just identified a nearby solar system hosting seven Earth-sized planets. Most intriguing: Three planets that orbit its central star — known as TRAPPIST-1 — may even be within a habitable zone. That means they fall within a region that could support life as we know it. As such, these newfound worlds are good sites to focus a search for alien life.
Preliminary data suggest all seven planets some 40 light-years from our sun are rocky, which would make them more similar to Earth than, say, Jupiter, a huge ball of gas. Rocky planets seem a better bet than gaseous worlds for offering sanctuary to life as we understand it.
Never before have astronomers found a star circled by so many Earth-like planets with relatively pleasant climates. Better yet, the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories peering at these new found worlds should be able to pick out chemical signals of any living organisms. Oxygen, for example, is a product of plants, while methane is made by certain microbes.
“We’ve made a crucial step toward finding (out) if there is life out there,” says Amaury Triaud of Britain’s University of Cambridge, co-author of the study on the planets in this week’s Nature. “Here, if life managed to thrive and release gases similar to that (which) we have on Earth, we will know.”
Interestingly, soon after NASA announced about their latest findings, the social media was flooded with Alien news. While some expressed excitement over the discovery of these earth-like planets, others expressed “I will be disappointed if no aliens are found on these planets.”
Comments like “NASA casually announcing 7 new PLANETS (Earth-sized Exoplanets), Perfect TIME to leave this one,” “Finally 7 planets to turn to for second chances. There is hope for the future,” “7 new planets? The fact you consider them new is reason enough to leave them alone,” “7 new planets? The fact you consider them new is reason enough to leave them alone.”
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