NASA’s announcement on Wednesday of finding seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby star has raised hopes that they may harbour water and, possibly, contain life.
TRAPPIST-1 (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope) has been discovered in the constellation Aquarius, which is less than 40 light-years from Earth (235 trillion miles from Earth).
TRAPPIST-1 is circled by seven planets similar in size to Earth, with orbits ranging from one-and-a-half to 20 days. Aside from it being a new discovery, another aspect causing excitement from the discovery is the fact that six of TRAPPIST-1’s planets lie within a zone where temperatures range from zero to 100C.
Additionally, three of the planets are believed to have watery oceans, greatly increasing the chances of the planet containing life. To date, no other planet system has been discovered that contains so many Earth-sized planets. The planets are about the same size as Venus or Earth.
Scientists have cautioned that more study is needed before it can be determined whether these planets can support life or not.