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NASA's announcement at 1 pm today indicated that there are 3 habitable planets around a red dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1. It is 39 light years away from Earth and actually contains 7 planets in its solar system. TRAPPIST-1 is about the size of Jupiter and now puts out less energy than our Sun but it is very quiet (i.e few solar flares), therefore it is ideal to host planets that could potentially contain life. This star is not as close as Proxima Centauri (4 light years) but it is a major discovery of rocky planets within habitable zones around a star.
These planets will now be further studied by the future James Webb Telescope and others to analyze the potential atmospheres around these planets to determine if life could be present.
A team of astronomers headed by Michaël Gillon of the Institut d’Astrophysique et Géophysique at the University of Liège in Belgium used telescopes in the Atacama Desert in Chile, to detect the planets. They used a transit-system, measuring the slight decrease in light created by planets crossing in front of stars to detect planets.
Upon further study of all 7 planets, it may be determined that there are more than 3 planets in the star's habitable zone.
This is very exciting stuff.
Maddalena Environmental Inc.