NASA to make announcement about Earth-like planets today

NASA to make announcement about Earth-like planets today

Astronomers just discovered seven Earth-like planets only 40 light years away.

The discovery sets a new record for the greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.

"Finding a second earth isn't just a matter of if, but when", Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, said during a press conference Wednesday. All seven could potentially have liquid water, which is the key to our survival on other planets under the right atmospheric conditions.

NASA on Wednesday shared news of the discovery of planets offering the first realistic opportunity to search for signs of alien life outside of the solar system.

Three of the planets-e, f, and g, as labeled above-are in the most habitable zone, meaning water could most likely exist on them.

"The discovery of multiple rocky planets with surface temperatures which allow for liquid water make this wonderful system an exciting future target in the search for life", said British astronomer Dr Chris Copperwheat, from Liverpool John Moores University, who co-led the global team.

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The star in question has been named TRAPPIST-1, and is a type of star known as a "red dwarf", the most common type in the universe. Thus, the planets orbit very close to the star and close to each other.

The findings will simultaneously be released in the journal Nature.

The most significant detail in this respect is whether or not the new planet or planets include liquid water, the principal ingredient for life. There is special interest in planets that orbit in a star's habitable zone.

James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2018, will also help gain more knowledge of the planet system.

Due to their tightly-wound proximity to TRAPPIST-1, the energy output from the star allows the inner six exoplanets to have temperatures comparable to those on Earth, Mercury, and Venus.