Earth may have more siblings than once thought.
Known as TRAPPIST-1, this star system holds seven Earth sized planets, three of which may be in the habitable zone, the goldilocks zone, where liquid water can exist, where life could survive, and evolve.
These three may have surface oceans like Earth.
Within the constellation Aquarius, lies a small star 39 light years away, a dwarf star about the size of Jupiter. It’s much cooler than the sun.
In total, seven planets were detected by looking at how the star’s light dimmed, while they transited in front of it. The level of dimming provided the information on how large the planets were.
Those starlight dips also showed how fast the planets were orbiting this tiny star. The closest planet orbits every 1.5 days, while the farthest every 20 days.
If you were born on one of the potentially habitable ones, you’d be celebrating your birthday every couple of weeks.
The sunlight would be far dimmer than that from the sun, perhaps generating 200 times less light.
All seven planets appear to be rocky, like Earth, and are between half Earth’s size, to half bigger.
Studying these cooler stars, are revealing that earth like planets may be common.
By studying the atmospheres of these planets, detecting if there is methane and oxygen, would provide evidence for life to exist there.
The Hubble Space Telescope could help, but the James Webb Space Telescope launching next year may help even more.
The dim, super cool stars however, may not be ready to reveal their planetary secrets easily.
It’s been 25 years since the discovery of the first exoplanet.
We are now one step closer to discovering if life on another planet exists, answering that big question, Are we alone?
The absurdity of that question is increasing every year. Over 3000 exoplanets have been discovered.
Entertaining the idea that life only exists on Earth is also increasingly absurd.
There are over a hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone, where billions of Earths are possible.
We really need to focus our energy to find one rock, other than Earth, that has life. This is our next step.
A leap that will take Humankind to a new level of existence.
Thank you for reading.