Seven Earth-like planets have been found orbiting an ‘ultra-cool’ star.
<b>Picture</b> NASA/JP-CALTECH/R.HURT (IPAC)
Researchers have discovered a unique solar system 40 light- years away from our own.
Seven rocky, Earth-sized planets have been found orbiting a small, ultra-cool star named TRAPPIST-1 (‘ultra-cool’ means that it’s a low- radiation dwarf star, not that it’s radically chic — although in this case, it kind of is).
All of the planets have potential for water on their surface; three of them orbit within the star’s habitable zone. As water is a vital element for life on Earth, there’s a non-zero chance that these planets could also contain life.
The TRAPPIST-1 solar system is remarkable in a few other ways: It is the most number of Earth-sized planets that have been found in the habitable zone of a single star. These planets are closer to each other than planets in our own solar system, at their closest, the planets TRAPPIST-1f and TRAPPIST-1g are only three times the distance between our Earth and its moon. The inner six planets orbit somewhat in sync as well, a phenomenon called orbital resonance.
Astronomers will continue studying the TRAPPIST-1 solar system for signs of water on the planets’ surfaces.