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[LINK] “Astronomers discover 7 Earth-like planets orbiting nearby star”

Facebook’s Leeman shared Ashley Strickland’s CNN report noting NASA’s announcement that nearby ultra-cool dwarf TRAPPIST-1 has been found to have seven broadly Earth-like planets, of which three are located in that star’s circumstellar habitable zone.

Astronomers have found at least seven Earth-like planets orbiting the same star 40 light-years away, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. The findings were also announced at a news conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

This discovery outside of our solar system is rare because the planets have the winning combination of being similar in size to Earth and being all temperate, meaning they could have water on their surfaces and potentially support life.

“This is the first time that so many planets of this kind are found around the same star,” said Michaël Gillon, lead study author and astronomer at the University of Liège in Belgium.

The seven exoplanets were all found in tight formation around an ultracool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. Estimates of their mass also indicate that they are rocky planets, rather than being gaseous like Jupiter. Three planets are in the habitable zone of the star, known as TRAPPIST-1e, f and g, and may even have oceans on the surface.

The researchers believe that TRAPPIST-1f in particular is the best candidate for supporting life. It’s a bit cooler than Earth, but could be suitable with the right atmosphere and enough greenhouse gases.

The Nature paper is here.

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Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Science

Tagged with , , ,

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