"Are we alone?" Scientists say maybe not, as 7 new Earth size planets are discovered
It's one of the greatest questions in history "Are we alone?" Based on that discovery scientists said that could be answered no. NASA along with a Belgian research team said they've made a discovery of seven new planets.
Torvald Hessel is the Executive Director and Founder of the Texas Museum of Science and Technology in Cedar Park, but he's an astronomer by trade, he said we are finding planets so fast now, but this discovery is one no one expected. “We have discovered several earth sized planets outside of our solar system, and I think we are one of two systems that may have had more than one earth sized planets, but to have then a system with 7 of them, that's insane. You scratch your head for wow what else is out there?”
The planets are all in a cluster some 40 light-years away, which means no one in our lifetime, will be visiting. But scientists said water and even life are possible on the three of the earth-sized planets. “These planets need to be at the perfect spot, at the perfect distance from these stars in order to have liquid water, and atmosphere and when there is liquid water and there is an atmosphere doesn't mean there is life but there is a possibility of life,” Hessel said.
All seven planets are orbiting around a star in the constellation "Aquarius". The star itself is a dwarf star - roughly the size of the planet Jupiter, known as "Trappist-1". Michael Gillon is an Astronomer with the University of Liege in Belgium ‘Trappist-1 is much cooler, much smaller than our sun and so planets in its habitable zone are much closer to it, very close to it with very short orbital periods," he said. The Spitzer Space Telescope, along with multiple telescopes on the ground made the remarkable find. "For one of them, our measurement is precise enough to strongly suggest a water-rich composition which is very exciting because this is one of the planets in the habitable zone," Gillon said.
Now, the focus is to find out if one of these planets is holding the holy grail of atmosphere, oxygen. Hessel said the next big step in observing this system will be in October of 2018, when the James Webb Telescope will be launched, which is a bigger and better version of Hubble. Hessel said it should be able to measure and see what's in the atmosphere, “We are a large step closer, to finding hopefully life somewhere else in this beautiful universe.”