Posted February 23, 2017 by Garth Holden in News

NASA announces discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby star


Last night NASA announced that dwarf star Trappist-1, which is 39 light years away from us, has seven Earth-sized planets. This is the first time so many Earth-sized planets have been discovered in orbit around a single star. The star is a bit larger than Jupiter and is 2,000 times fainter than our sun.

“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,” said Michaël Gillon, an astrophysicist at the University of Liège in Belgium.

The planets orbit much closer to Trappist-1 than in our solar system. In fact Mercury is six times farther from our sun than the the outermost planet is from Trappist-1. On Planet 1f, the fifth planet in the star system the star would look 10 times larger in the sky compared to how we regard Sol. The nearby planets would appear in the sky, appearing double the size of how we see our moon. Researchers hope to know whether there is life on the planets within the decade.

Last year the Trappist robotic telescope in the Chilean desert spotted the shadows of three planets obscuring light from Trappist-1, which led to sustained observation from ground and space-based telescopes. The planets are so close to their star that orbits take between 1.5 and 20 days. Some, or even all of the planets will be tidally locked at this distance.

Google’s doodle says it all, really.

Source: The Guardian

Garth Holden

I like so many things that it would take me several lifetimes to get through them all. So I tell you about them, so you can choose where your time and money gets spent.