NASA scientists announced on Wednesday that four new Earth-sized exoplants have been discovered. The planets are orbiting a star approximately 40 light-years away, and three of them may contain water and be able to sustain life.
These four exoplanets join three others circling TRAPPIST-1, a red dwarf star, that were discovered by the same team early in 2016. All four of the new discoveries are roughly the size of Earth, and all receive an amount of sunlight that might make for livable temperatures, depending on their atmospheres.
“This is an amazing planetary system, not only because we have found so many planets, but because they are all surprisingly similar in size to Earth,” said Michaël Gillon, astronomer from the University of Liège in Belgium and lead author of the paper about the discovery published in the journal Nature.
— NASA (@NASA) February 22, 2017
“The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star,” said Michael Gillon, the principal investigator on the project from University of Liege, Belgium. “It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds.”
The seven planets orbit TRAPPIST-1 very tightly.
“A year on any of these worlds would be less than three weeks, and in the case of the innermost planet, only 36 hours,” Shostak says. “You’d have a hard time keeping up with birthdays.”
Watch NASA’s full press conference about the discovery below.