NASA News: Scientists Discovered Habitable Planets

First Posted: May 05, 2016 07:00 AM EDT

An international team of astronomers from MIT, University of Liege in Belgium were the pioneers who discovered the new three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star, just forty light years away from Earth. They were shocked when they compared the sizes and temperature of these worlds to Earth and Venus; it was matchless, and highly known as the outstanding objective so far in researching outside the solar system. Then the results were directly issued today in the journal Nature.

The experts discovered the planets using their so called TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and Planeteslmals Small Telescope). This is a 60-centimeter telescope that is administered by the university in Chile. TRAPPIST was invented to focus on 60 nearby dwarf stars - very tiny, cool stars that are so faint that they are invisible to other optical telescope. Belgian researchers also designed this to monitor baby stars at infrared wavelengths and to discover more planets around them as cited on MIT News.

As cited in an article on Yahoo News, the focal point of the team on the ultracool dwarf star, 2MASS J23062928-0502285, or also known as TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-mega giant star that is one-eight size of our sun and greatly cooler. Over several months starting last September 2015, they kept on observing the star's infrared signal fade slightly at regular intervals, suggesting that some objects were passing nearby the star.

Still keeping in touch, the team confirmed the objects were absolutely planets, with almost same sizes to Earth and Venus. The two innermost planets orbit the star in 1.5 and 2.4 days, nevertheless they receive only four and two times the amount of radiation, correspondingly, as our planet receives from our giant star which is the sun. The third planet may rotate around the star anywhere from 4 to 73 days, and may seize less radiation compared than Earth. All three planets may have regions with temperatures that will be low at 400 kelvins given that their size and proximity to their ultracool star, within a range that is good enough to sustain water and life.

The co-author Julien de Wit who is known as a postdoc in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, says scientists soon can be able to study the planets' atmospheric conditions, and find out whether life really exists in the solar system since the system is just 40 light years away from earth.

"These planets are so close, and their star so small, we can study their atmosphere and composition, and further down the road, which is within our generation, assess if they are actually inhabited'" de Wit added and Lastly he said, "All these things are achievable, and within reach now. This is a jackpot for the field," he added. 

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