3 new habitable planets have been discovered in our solar system and the best part of it is that it is only about 40 light years away from the Earth.
These planets orbit a cool dwarf star and they all show signs of being similar to the Earth’s size and look potentially habitable. This is a breakthrough in scientist’s search of life across the solar system.
Out of the 3 planets, one planet has been narrowed down as the best of the three and is named ‘TRAPPIST-1.’ This new habitable planet is about 1/8th the Sun’s size and is comparatively much cooler and redder. However the star is too dim and too red, which is why it may not be visible to the naked eye or even through a basic telescope.
“Thanks to several giant telescopes currently under construction, including ESO’s E-ELT and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope due to launch for 2018, we will soon be able to study the atmospheric composition of these planets and to explore them first for water, then for traces of biological activity. That’s a giant step in the search for life in the Universe.” – Julien de Wit, a co-author from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
Two out of the three new habitable planets have orbital periods of 1.5 and 2.4 days while the third planet has a slightly higher orbital period of 4.5 to 7.3 days.
The reason these planets are habitable is because they receive only four and two times the radiation that the Earth receives, possibly lesser also. And the surface temperature of these planets can support the existence of liquid water as well.
NASA can use its James Webb Space Telescope to identify these new habitable planets’, especially TRAPPIST-1’s environment. The telescope’s infrared sensitivity can detect the presence of gases and molecules which are similar to the Earth’s atmosphere. This way, we can know for sure if the planet is habitable or not.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
*Quotes, image, and facts source: NASA.