Seven Earth-sized worlds found orbiting a nearby star

Could the hunt for alien life beyond our solar system begin much sooner than previously thought? Astronomers have recently discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting around a nearby star called Trappist-1. The recent discovery published in the journal Nature has raised hopes that the planets could be warm enough to sustain water and life.

Trappist-1, a dwarf star at least 39 light years away, shines with a feeble light approximately 2,000 times fainter than our sun. It is considered marginally large than Jupiter.

“The planets are all close to each other and very close to the star, which is very reminiscent of the moons around Jupiter,” astrophysicist MichaĆ«l Gillon explained. “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,” he added.

Although the planets are Earth-like in size, ranging from 10% larger to 25% smaller, their other features are entirely different. The planets’ orbits are so compact that Mercury, our solar system’s innermost planet, is six times father from the sun than the outermost seventh planet from Trappist-1. The mass, radius as well as orbital periods of almost all seven planets have been determined. Analysis of their atmosphere’s molecular composition will be soon carried out to know if one or more of these planets can support life.

Astronomers noted that out of the seven worlds discovered, only three are within the conventional “habitable” zone. The researchers are hoping to determine if there is life on the planets within a decade.

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