By Sarah-Grace Battles, Editor-in-Chief —
Seven planets that could potentially harbor life have been discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope orbiting a tiny star offering the first chance to search for signs of alien life outside the solar system.
This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile.
The planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, which is located about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth. The orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in a way that could potentially provide some insight into new life.
One or more of the planets in the new system could be at the right temperature to be have water based on the distance of the planets from the dwarf star.
The NASA team measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated. Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky.