NASA scientists have successfully discovered seven Earth- size planets around a single star which may be capable of holding life.Â
According to the NASA scientist, it has been found that this cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius.
Out of the seven new planets discovered three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.
The announcement of the discovery of seven new planets was made on Wednesday by NASA and the Belgian-led research team.
The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water â€“ key to life as we know it â€“ under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.
â€œThis discovery could be a significant piece of the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,â€ said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agencyâ€™s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
Â â€œAnswering the question â€˜are we aloneâ€™ 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.â€
â€” NASA (@NASA) February 22, 2017
â€œThere are 200 billion stars in our galaxy,â€ said co-author Emmanuel Jehin of the University of Liege. So do an account. You multiply this by 10, and you have the number of Earth-size planets in the galaxy _ which is a lot.â€ Last spring, the University of Liegeâ€™s Michael Gillon and his team reported finding three planets around Trappist-1. Now the count is up to seven, and Gillon said there could be more. Their latest findings appear in the journal Nature.
According to the researchers, this solar system is reminiscent of Jupiter and its Galilean moons.
â€œThe spectacle would be beautiful because every now and then, you would see another planet, maybe about as big as twice the moon in the sky, depending on which planet youâ€™re on and which planet you look at,â€ Triaud said Tuesday in a teleconference with reporters.
The Leiden Observatoryâ€™s Ignas Snellen calls â€œthe seven sisters of planet Earth.â€ In a companion article in Nature, he said Gillonâ€™s team could have been lucky in nabbing so many terrestrial planets in one stellar swoop. â€œBut finding seven transiting Earth-sized planets in such a small sample suggests that the solar system with its four (sub-) Earth-sized planets might be nothing out of the ordinary,â€ Snellen wrote.
"The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets," said Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.Â
â€œHere, if life managed to thrive and releases gases similar to that that we have on Earth, then we will know,â€ Triaud said. Chemical analyses should indicate life with perhaps 99 percent confidence, Gillon noted. But he added: â€œWe will never be completely sureâ€ without going there.
(With inputs from NASA)