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New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.  A “just” 39 years light from the Earth, researchers have identified a dwarf with around seven planets, three of which are located in the so-called “habitable zone”

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

A solar system with seven planets similar in size to Earth, three of which are located in the so-called habitable zone and could harbor liquid water oceans is the discovery made by a group of astronomers and announced in an article just published in Nature and in a press conference by NASA.

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

It is perhaps the most sensational result ever achieved in the search for extrasolar planets and, potentially, of life beyond Earth. The planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a red dwarf ultracold located 39 light years from our Earth.

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

Already last year had been identified three potential planets in orbit, but now astronomers that make up the international team, announce that they have been able to observe the transit in front of the star of seven heavenly bodies and to calculate its size, chemical composition, and the  orbit. At least six of the seven are probably rocky and also have temperatures similar to those found on Earth. TRAPPIST-1 is very small to be a star: it has a slightly larger mass than the planet Jupiter, and amounted to only 8 per cent of that of our sun. Closer to the constellation Aquarius, is also very little light.

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

Dwarf stars as TRAPPIST-1 emit energy much weaker than our Sun. Because it is possible the presence of liquid water, the planets should have an orbit much closer to the star than our solar system. Fortunately, it is precisely the type of configuration that we found around TRAPPIST-1. In particular, the second, third and fourth planet starting from the star (denominated TRAPPIST-1c, d, f) receive energy in amounts comparable to that received, respectively, from Venus, from the Earth and Mars. At least in theory, all seven planets could host liquid water, but for some the possibility is more concrete than for others. In particular, the three inner planets are probably too hot: the possible presence of water would only be limited to small areas of their surface. The planet farthest from the star, TRAPPIST h-1, is in all likelihood too far, although its orbital distance is not calculated with accuracy. Are the three half planets – TRAPPIST-1 e, f, g – to arouse the enthusiasm of astronomers: they are in the so-called circumstellar habitable zone and may even contain whole oceans of water.

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

In any case, it will be interesting to study them better, it is surprising a system with seven planets in a much smaller region of the orbit of Mercury.

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

The new discovery was made possible thanks to the observations made by several ground-based telescopes (first among all those of the European Southern Observatory in Chile), and the Spitzer Space Telescope NASA.

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

Today, another space telescope, the Hubble, has already pointed the lens toward the TRAPPIST-1 system to look for signs of the possible presence of atmosphere around its planets. And the future opens up possibilities even more: with the new generation of telescopes, such as the European Extremely Large Telescope, which should be completed by 2024, and the James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch in 2018, we will soon be able to search the ‘water and even the signs of the possible presence of life forms on these distant worlds.

New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.

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New solar system with perhaps habitable planets.