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Rocky, Habitable Exoplanets Found In A Nearby Star, Scientists Prove

First Posted: Jul 21, 2016 04:22 AM EDT
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Looking up at the constellation Aquarius, about 39 light years from earth is an ultracool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1-a sun that has 2 earth-sized planets circling it that scientists think is possibly habitable, according to recent studies.

A major key to habitability is a rocky surface, which scientists found that the two planets have. While scientists have yet to confirm the state of the atmosphere which could range from ultra-thin like Mars to highly dense like Venus, sceintists are continuing their exploration hoping to find the air to be as comfortable as Earth's.

Our sun is 2,000 time stronger than the star TRAPPIST-1 making its heat considerably less by nearly half. It is also smaller than the sun at an eighth of the sun's width and a twelfth of its mass, which makes the star comparable to the size of Jupiter, being only barely larger.

Researchers suggest that to find possible life in other planets, scientists must look to planets surrounding ultra dwarfs. Making about 15 percent of that stars in the Milky Way Galaxy that is near our sun, these stars are the only environments that will enable current technology to detect life on other distant planets.

After researching the planets around TRAPPIST-1 in the past, researchers found that it is possible for the planets to hold water-a key ingredient of life when modeled with Earth standards. It is only recently that they found the surface to be rocky.

"We actually have the capabilities to study the atmosphere of potentially habitable worlds with a facility, Hubble, designed in the '70s, well before we started to detect exoplanets," said Julien de Wit, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the study lead author. "This is just insanely exciting."

The key to finding possible planets lies in the fact that these are not "mini gas giants." The two planets surrounding the star have been confirmed to have compact atmospheres after an analysis of the spectrum of light from the planets during double transit.

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

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