Today at 1 pm EST ( 6 pm GMT ) NASA hold a news conference in Washington and announced the major discovery in the field of exoplanets. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed for the first time the system of 7 Earth-like planets orbiting the nearby star. The star is only 39 light years away and at least 3 of 7 planets have right conditions for liquid water.
Hosts of conference NASA scientists Thomas Zurbuchen, Michael Gillon, Sean Carey, Nikole Lewis and Sara Seager informed the public about the discovery of exoplanets system called TRAPPIST-1 named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope in Chile.
The nearby star is a small ultra-cool dwarf with only 8% mass of our Sun called Trappist – 1. Last year astronomers discovered three rocky planets there and now they found four more. The planets received the name TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g, and h. As the star is very cold, the planets are temperate and thanks to their orbiting position at least three of them ( e, f, and g ) suggesting liquid oceans and possible habitable surface.
The planets have years ranging in length from 1.5 to roughly 20 Earth days. Their dwarf star is very young and burns hydrogen so slowly that it will live for another 10 trillion years which is more than enough for life to evolve.
This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations. Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets, said Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center.
The next generations of telescope such as James Webb Space Telescope will be able to examine planets for methane, water, ozone and other chemicals tied to life. NASA astronomers are convinced that we will discover in the future even more exciting news from the amazing Trappist-1 world.
This 360-degree panorama depicts the surface of a newly detected planet, TRAPPIST 1-d, part of a seven-planet system some 40 light years away. Explore this artist’s rendering of an alien world by moving the view using your mouse or your mobile device. Credits: NASA