MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. --An astounding discovery was announced by astronomers Wednesday. A star system that's relatively close by has been discovered to have seven planets that appear very similar to earth.
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The documents are single-spaced, filled with the kind of graphs and tables that only a scientist could understand.
For one who has discovered six moons and three rings in our solar system it's riveting stuff.
"It's a very very feeble star," said Dr. Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute. "A dwarf star."
He's talking about a solar system known as a "Trappist-1." It has several earth-sized, rocky planets and at least three of them fall in what scientists call, "The Goldilocks Zone," with temperatures potentially capable of supporting water, atmospheres, and life.
You cannot see the Trappist One system with the naked eye, but telescopes can find it in the constellation Aquarius--a system so small that the red dwarf sun and planets would fit inside the orbit of Mercury. It's forty light years away, closer than next door, interstellar-wise.
We're close enough to find atmospheric traces when the planets pass in front of that small, red sun--a star so stable and long-lived that intelligent life could have time to develop.
In fact, Dr. Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute told us Wednesday that they have already pointed radio telescopes at Trappist One, scanning 10 billion channels.
They heard nothing, but aren't discouraged. Of the thousands of planets discovered outside our solar system, none had the potential for water.
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Now there's at least three planets that have the potential for water--so happy reading and exploring.