Newly Discovered Exoplanets


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A study published by Journal Nature announced during a conference at NASA headquarters that they had discovered seven exoplanets that are similar to Earth, which is 40 light years away.

Researchers used a telescope called TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) to record the exoplanets’ distance from their stars, radii, masses, orbital rotation and revolution.

The seven newly discovered exoplanets are revolving around a dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. The planets’ position from the dwarf star is relatively close to other planets in our solar system. Their orbital periods or evolutions around the star is also a lot shorter than Earth.  One or more of these planets have reported to be able to sustain life and may contain oceans, astronomers said in the New York Times.  

“This is the first time so many planets of this kind are found around the same star,” said Michael Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth planets have been identified as  “habitable zones” in the mini solar system after spotting oceans on the planets. Determining the gases in the planets by measuring the wavelengths blocked by the light of the planet, the researchers discovered that the two inner most planets close to the sun lacked hydrogen. The planets closest to the TRAPPIST-1 star would have become “gravitationally locked” to the star, just like the moon and the Earth’s gravitational pull; the moon is always facing the Earth on one side.

However, Dr. Triaud, a scientist, said in the New York Times, “For a person standing on one of the planets, it would be a dim environment, with perhaps only about one two-hundredth the light that we see from the sun on Earth.” Also, Dr. Triaud mentioned that TRAPPIST 1 would be brighter than the moon at night and three times as wide as the sun seen on Earth. If scientists found oxygen with methane and carbon dioxide in exact proportions, then that, “would tell us that there is life with 99 percent confidence,” Dr. Gillon said in the New York Times.

The newly discovered exoplanets could also mean that scientists could potentially find radio signals from alien civilizations that might look for the wrong planets, if they were looking for planet orbit dwarfs.

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