This morning NASA announced the discovery of seven Earth-like planets â€œthat could harbor lifeâ€ orbiting an ultra cool red dwarf star. Three of these seven newly discovered planets are in the Habitable Zone. The exoplanets circle the star TRAPPIST-1, which lies just 39 light-years (235 trillion miles) away â€” a mere stone’s throw in the cosmic scheme of things.
From Washington Post:
The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have ever detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying alien worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.
â€œBefore this, if you wanted to study terrestrial planets, we had only four of them and they were all in our solar system,â€ said lead author MichaÃ«l Gillon, an exoplanet researcher at the University of LiÃ¨ge in Belgium. â€œNow we have seven Earth-sized planets to expand our understanding. Yes, we have the possibility to find water and life. But even if we don’t, whatever we find will be super interesting.â€
Here’s the paper in Nature: Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby star TRAPPIST-1.