Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times
Link to Article:
7 Earth-Size Planets Orbit Dwarf Star
Excerpt: "Not just one, but seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a tiny star not too far away, offering the first realistic opportunity to search for signs of alien life outside the solar system.
The planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth. That is quite close in cosmic terms, and by happy accident, the orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in great detail.
One or more of the exoplanets in this new system could be at the right temperature to be awash in oceans of water, astronomers said, based on the distance of the planets from the dwarf star.
'This is the first time so many planets of this kind are found around the same star,' Michael Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium and the leader of an international team that has been observing Trappist-1, said during a telephone news conference organized by the journal Nature, which published the findings on Wednesday.
Scientists could even discover compelling evidence of aliens.
'I think that we have made a crucial step toward finding if there is life out there,' said Amaury H. M. J. Triaud, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge in England and another member of the research team. 'Here, if life managed to thrive and releases gases similar to that we have on Earth, then we will know.'
Cool red dwarfs are the most common type of star, so astronomers are likely to find more planetary systems like that around Trappist-1 in the coming years."...