A small, faint star has recently been discovered relatively close to our planet earth. While this fact in of itself is only somewhat interesting, it is the rest of the discovery that has scientists and much of the rest of the world buzzing. Discovered around these nearby star are seven planets similar in size to earth.
While a great deal of research still needs to be carried out, astronomers have thus far found that with these seven planets, the conditions seem to be right for liquid water. This translates to conditions that could also be ideal for life.
The discovery has set a number of records. Not only does this record apply to the most Earth-sized planets, but it is also the greatest number of potentially habitable planets ever found around a single star.
The Startling Discovery
The recently discovered planetary system is pretty compact. All of the worlds in question orbit the star more closely than Mercury does with our sun. In other words, if you were to stand on one of these planets, you would be able to look out and see the other planets. Their distance is comparable to that of the moon from the Earth on a particularly clear day, or even closer than that.
The cool, reddish-looking star is about forty lightyears from where we are right now, located in the constellation known as Aquarius. A very small star, astronomers believe the star is about ten times smaller than our star. Why did no one find it until the now? It is largely due to the fact that until quite recently, astronomers weren’t really looking for planets around alleged dwarf stars. However, this changed about a year ago, when scientists discovered three planets around the star. Additional searching revealed four more, bringing the grand total to seven. Each planet was discovered by searching for faint dimming that happens whenever starlight is blocked by planets passing in front.
Research so far indicates that there is a great deal about these planets that is worth getting excited about. More observations using the Hubble Telescope are being planned for the future in order to gather even more data on one of the most incredible scientific discoveries in recent memory.
At this point, the discovery adds fuel to the notion that there are far more Earth-sized planets in our universe than we had ever suspected before.