Scientists Discover Three Earth-Like Potentially Habitable Planets
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
A study published in the journal Nature states that astronomers have for the first time discovered three potentially habitable Earth-like planets outside our solar system. The trio orbit an ultracool dwarf star situated just 39 light years away.
The findings state that the planets are comparable in size and temperature to Earth and Venus. Scientists calibrated a 60-cm telescope in Chile, known as TRAPPIST, to locate the ultracool dwarf star. The ultracool dwarf star now known as TRAPPIST-1 is about one eighth the size of the Sun and comparatively cooler. TRAPPIST-1 is red and hardly larger than Jupiter and too dimmer to be seen with the naked eye or even amateur telescopes from Earth.
After observing it for months, astronomers noticed that there were fluctuations in its infrared signals which indicated the presence of objects in its orbit. Upon further examination it was revealed that these objects were exoplanets. The two innermost planets circle the star every 1.5 and 2.4 days respectively whereas the distant third planet takes anywhere between 4 and 73 days to circle the star.