Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of 7 Earth-like planets around a single star. The area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. This announcement came from NASA yesterday
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission said, “This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life. Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”
Three Planets are found in habitable zone. Habitable zone is the range of orbits around a star within which a planetary surface can support liquid water given sufficient atmospheric pressure. So there are strong possibilities of Water in 3 of the 7 Earth-like planets.
Gillon the lead author of the Nature paper announcing the discovery said, “Maybe the most exciting thing here is that these seven planets are very well suited for detailed atmospheric study”.
The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2018, will have the ability to measure the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres. If the atmospheres contain telltale gases like ozone, oxygen, or methane, life could exist there. “We can expect that in a few years, we will know a lot more about these planets,” Amaury Triaud, another of the paper’s co-authors, said.
System of planet at about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope in Chile
After discovery from the Spitzer telescope, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has initiated the screening of four of the planets, including the three inside the habitable zone.
Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute said, “The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around 7 Earth-like planets” .