Nasa discovers seven new exoplanets with great potential for alien life

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A system of seven Earth-like planets, three of which are considered to be in the "habitable zone", have been discovered orbiting a single star, NASA announced Wednesday.

Worldwide astronomers - led by Michaël Gillon and largely funded by the European Union - have found a solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which are close enough to the star to host life.

Scientists believe that all seven have the potential to support liquid water depending on the other characteristics of the surface.

Scientists are trying to find as many exoplanets as possible. It is an ultra cool star, not because its hosts three habitable planets but because the temperature is a relatively cool - 2550 Kelvin (K) compared to the sun's blazing 5778 K.

A team of worldwide astronomers, co-led by British scientist Dr Chris Copperwheat, detected seven Earth-sized worlds orbiting a cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1.

"We have made a giant accelerated leap forward in the search for habitable worlds and life in other worlds.", Prof Sara Seager, an expert in planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said. The space telescope focuses on the star, and as each planet passes in front of the star, the light dims.

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Trappist-1g is the largest planet in the system, with radius 13 per cent larger than Earth's.

In a few billion years, when the sun dies and our solar system has ceased to exist, Trappist-1 will still be an infant, astronomer Ignas Snellen, wrote in a related essay in Nature.

"This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations", said Sean Carey, manager of the NASA Spitzer Space Center at Caltech.

The location of these planets makes them especially good candidates for further study. Dwarf stars like TRAPPIST-1 are common in our Milky Way galaxy.

The Spitzer, Hubble, and Kepler telescopes will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018.

The discovery of the seven new extraterrestrial worlds outside of the solar system, however, has caused much excitement to the scientific community NASA even called for a press conference.

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