Life Beyond Earth: NASA finds new Earth like planet 40 light-years away

This diagram compares the sizes of TRAPPIST-1 planets with Solar System bodies. Image credit ESO  O. Furtak

This diagram compares the sizes of TRAPPIST-1 planets with Solar System bodies. Image credit ESO O. Furtak

In the fall of 2016, Spitzer observed TRAPPIST-1 almost continuously for 500 hours. Jupiter's auroras are hundreds of times more powerful than Earth's, and they form a glowing ring around each pole that's bigger than our home planet.

TRAPPIST-1 is not very bright, so sunbathing on its planets could be a rather unsatisfying experience. Three of the planets lie within the "habitable zone", a theoretical range in which liquid water could exist. After being studied with telescopes for more than two centuries, Ceres became the first dwarf planet to be explored by a spacecraft, when NASA's Dawn probe arrived in orbit in March 2015. It's a bit cooler than Earth, but could be suitable with the right atmosphere and enough greenhouse gases.

Due to the low temperature of the star, all seven of the planets orbit closer to it than Mercury does to our Sun. Seven new planets! "Earthlike!". "It is like at the end of sunset", co-author Amaury Triaud, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge, said. Plus, generally speaking, just because a planet could be habitable doesn't mean humans would want to live there, even if we could leave behind Florida and make Obama president of humans and aliens alike. Today, we know of more than 3,500.

If they find traces of methane, oxygen and ozone simultaneously on one planet, then "that is a strong indication for life", Dillon said.

Presenters will include: NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen, University of Liege astronomer Michael Gillon, NASA Spitzer Science Center manager Sean Carey, Space Telescope Science Institute astronomer Nikole Lewis, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Planetary Science and Physics Sara Seager. "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". "Just imagine how many worlds are out there that have a shot at becoming a habitable system that we could explore".

Scientists have long believed that there are other Earthlike planets in the galaxy, and say the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system offers a unique opportunity for study, both because the system is so close to us and because the star's glow is dim enough that we can see the planets.

All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun.

Even so, ultracool dwarf stars can be pretty hot places to look for potentially life-friendly planets.

Starting closest to the star and moving out, the planets have respective orbits from one and a half to almost 13 Earth days. The Sun has two: Earth and Mars, plus the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt. If a person were standing on one of the planet's surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth's sky. And because of the red nature of the star, the light would be a salmon hue, the researchers speculate. "Still, the star is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water - and maybe life, by extension - on the surface". But further observation is needed to know for sure. If TRAPPIST-1 were the Sun, all of them would be baked. Revolving outside this auroral oval are the glowing, electric "footprints" of Jupiter's three largest moons.

They were largely overlooked until Gillon made a decision to study the space around one of these dwarves.

The European Southern Observatory's TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST for short) in Chile uses the transit method to hunt for planets. The team saw shadows, like little eclipses, periodically interrupting the steady pattern of starlight. These create what are called transit timing variations, where a planet may appear in front of its host star a few minutes earlier or later than would be expected if it is orbiting on its own. The shadows indicated planets, and further observation confirmed them.

So, they brought in the big guns: NASA's Spitzer space telescope.

Over the next decade, the researchers want to define the atmosphere of each planet, as well as to determine whether they truly do have liquid water on the surface and search for signs of life.

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Some propose that it is the best place to search for life within the solar system. NASA's bleeding-edge James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched in October 2018, will make this search far easier.

The researchers are also searching for similar star systems to conduct more atmospheric research.

Recommended News

  • Scheana Marie Shay's New Boyfriend Revealed

    E! News has learned the Vanderpump Rules star, who split from husband Mike Shay in November, is dating actor Robert Valletta . That was ideal timing for her and it honestly felt liked her relationship with Shay was over way before it publicly ended.

    Forward Earnings Estimate of Synergy Pharmaceuticals, Inc.(SGYP)

    Synergy Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: SGYP ) rose 0.17% or 0.01 points on Friday and made its way into the gainers of the day. Teacher Retirement System of Texas increased its position in shares of Synergy Pharmaceuticals by 29.2% in the third quarter.

    Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 DLC and free updates next week

    DLC characters that are planned for the third pack of the game includes Super Saiyan Rose, Zamasu, Goku Black, and SSGSS Vegito. It also includes new accessories, costumes, world tournaments and attacks, as well as a BGM option and two new expert missions.
  • Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson Vacation in Jamaica

    The 32-year-old Kardashian started dating the Cleveland Cavaliers player in July 2016. Every Sunday, I try to do something that I've never done before.

    7th Pay Commission: Committee on Allowances likely to present its report tomorrow

    After protests and much debate, the commission which was adjudged to give a report on the 7th Pay Commission is expected today. It has been almost eight months since the Narendra Modi government cleared the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.

    'Game Of Thrones' Season 7 Leak

    One of the wolves photographed is Quigley, who has played Jon Snow's (Kit Harrington) direwolf Ghost since 2015. A few cast members have been generous enough to tease the progress of the production for the next season.
  • Seadrill Ltd (SDRL) to Release Quarterly Earnings on Thursday

    The Closing price of SeaDrill Limited (NYSE:SDRL) at Last Earnings was $2.46 as compared to the previous closing price of $2. Seadrill Limited (NYSE:SDRL) witnessed a decline in the market cap on Friday as its shares dropped 3% or 0.06 points.
    'The Walking Dead' Spoilers Season 7 Episode 11: Eugene's Compromise

    'The Walking Dead' Spoilers Season 7 Episode 11: Eugene's Compromise

    Another casualty from the meeting: Morgan (Lennie James) loses his aikido staff, a devastating loss for the season one veteran. As usual, it does not go well, especially when an argument with Richard ( Karl Makinen ) becomes a full-blown standoff.

    Northern Dynasty Minerals, Ltd. (NAK) Valuation According To Analysts

    The final trade was registered at $2.26 and the volume by the end of the day had touched 13,197,125 shares. TD Securities' target price indicates a potential upside of 67.79% from the company's current price.
  • 9-year-old boy dies weighing 15 pounds, four people arrested

    9-year-old boy dies weighing 15 pounds, four people arrested

    The victim's biological parents have been notified, but according to authorities they were not willing to provide a statement. What kind of animals are they?' Ewing said, who was visibly shaken up. "In my opinion, he was starved to death".

    Penn West Petroleum Ltd (NYSE:PWE) Price Target & Stock Check

    The company has outperformed the S&P 500 by 1.41% in the past week but underperformed the index by 11.02% in the last 4 weeks. Penn West Petroleum Ltd (NYSE:PWE) rose 1.74% or 0.03 points on Friday and made its way into the gainers of the day.

    Spirit Airlines adds flights out of Pittsburgh

    Non-stop service will go to Dallas/Fort Worth, Myrtle Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Las Vegas, Houston and Los Angeles. The press release says the daily, non-stop flights from MYR to PIT will begin May 25, and end in November.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.