Tuesday, February 28, 2017

7 Earth-Sized Planets Discovered Orbiting Star

Recently the media has been filled with the news about the discovery of seven earth-sized planets revolving round a star that is considered to be 39 light years away from earth. The seven planets that were discovered are also said to be virtually same size as our planet earth. Astronomers are also considering the possibility of some of the planets having same types of atmospheres as earth. Using more sophisticated and advanced telescopes; scientists are now more optimistic that searching for alien life might yield promising results sooner than later. Although this is something that has been speculated to take place several decades from now, with discoveries like this, the chances are even much higher.

It is important to note that the discovery of the earth-sized planets orbiting a single star is the first of its kind. The planets that were discovered were seen to be in close proximity to the Trappist-1 star. When compared to Jupiter, this star is only slightly bigger. According to a University of Liege astrophysicist, Micheal Gillon, The temperature of the star is relatively cold, which makes the seven planets to be temperate – this basically means there is a possibility of these planets having life or some form of liquid water.

Due to the discovery of the seven earth-sized planets, astronomers at NASA prompted a more detailed monitoring from space and the ground. Keep in mind that the peering of NASA’s Spitzer space telescope for about 21 days at the star, in addition to more data received made it possible to discover the seven planets that are orbiting Trappist-1. Just like our planet earth, the astronomers were able to get the size of the planets based on the space of starlight it covered during the observation. To deduce the mass of each of the planets, astronomers considered how the planets were pulled and pushed by each other in the solar system. When it comes to how long it takes the planets to move around the solar system, it basically takes around 20 days to evolve around the star.

What does the discovery mean?

Astronomers are now focusing on whether the planets have atmospheres, which is going to give a deep insight into the possibility of having a habitable environment. Using the Hubble telescope, it is possible to detect water and methane in the alien air – it is, however, important to keep in mind that these can be produced without life. To further explore the possibility of any life form, astronomers are putting resources such as the James Webb Space Telescope, due to be in use by next year. Another instrument, which is a ground-based observatory, is the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be launched in 2023. Finding out what the planets comprise of can only be done after astronomers finally go to the planets to collect data. There is no doubt that astronomers at NASA will continue working on the mission to discover more features of the newly discovered planets and more.

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