NASA telescope reveals largest batch of Earth-size, habitable-zone planets around single star

1 month ago | 23-02-2017 | IBNS



Washington, Feb 23 : NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water key to life as we know it under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone, read the NASA website.

This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agencys Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Answering the question are we alone is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.

NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water key to life as we know it under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agencys Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Answering the question are we alone is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.


NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water key to life as we know it under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agencys Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Answering the question are we alone is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.


In May 2016, the Hubble team observed the two innermost planets, and found no evidence for such puffy atmospheres. This strengthened the case that the planets closest to the star are rocky in nature.

The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets, said Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. NASAs planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, making measurements of the stars minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets. Operating as the K2 mission, the spacecrafts observations will allow astronomers to refine the properties of the known planets, as well as search for additional planets in the system. The K2 observations conclude in early March and will be made available on the public archive.

NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASAs Science Mission Directorate. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center, at Caltech, in Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech/IPAC. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.Spitzer, Hubble, and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using NASAs upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planets atmosphere. Webb also will analyze planets temperatures and surface pressures key factors in assessing their habitability.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech