This would be for the first time that such a good number of habitable planets have been discovered revolving around a single planet. The red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 is about 40 light-years away from the Earth and it sits in the Aquarius constellation. It is a big feat for NASA as three of these planets fall in the habitable zone.
NASA had earlier announced on Twitter that it will host a live session where it will announce the “new findings on planets orbiting other stars”. Most of the onlookers took to be an announcement about alien life been discovered by NASA. The space agency later clarified via a tweet that the announcement wasn’t about aliens but something exciting was to be presented.
It was revealed by the space agency that dwarf planet was discovered back in 2010 and was being observed for life on its planets. The TRAPPIST-1 is a dwarf dim star, barely bigger than Jupiter, about 40 light years from our solar system. Its seven planets circle around it quite tightly and as per the scientists, three of them fall in the habitable zone where water could be present in liquid form.
— NASA (@NASA) February 22, 2017
All the planets are almost the size of the Earth and have similar rocky surface. Being in the habitable zone and just the right distance from their star, the three planets could hold oceans with liquid water, a crucial element for supporting any form of life. The study was conducted together by NASA and a Belgian-led research team who also made the announcement.
Scientists mentioned that the TRAPPIST-1 is a very young star and it also burns its hydrogen at a very slow rate. The star will have a really long life spanning 100 trillion years and that gives any form of life enough time to flourish. The planet has been named after the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile as the scientists discovered the three planets back in May 2016 using this telescope.
During their initial observation, the research time has found that all the seven planets look to be solid like the Earth and are possibly icy, too. Apart from this, the planets also appear to be tidally locked, which means that the same side of the planet continually faces the star, just like our moon always has the same side facing us. The researchers said that the life could sustain only on the side facing the star.