Scientists discover seven exoplanets the size of earth

Perhaps the most interesting piece of news is that three of the seven planets are in the habitable zone of the star.

Last year, a telescope in Chile spotted two planets orbiting an ultra-cool white dwarf star dubbed TRAPPIST-1 (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), which is around 8 per cent of the mass of our own Sun.

Three of the planets lie in the star's habitable zone.

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The planets orbit a star called Trappist-1, which is about 40 light years away from Earth, according to the New York Times. One might think that this proximity would make it impossible for these planets to sustain-life, however, the TRAPPIST-1 star is quite different to our solar system's sun.

"We're making a step forward with this - a leap forward, in fact - toward answering that question", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington said during a presentation. The energy emitted by the star is sufficient to sustain the solar system as long as the planets have shorter orbits. In 2018, NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope, which will give the agency a more in-depth look at the atmosphere of these planets, helping scientists understand whether these planets are the real deal.

"The planets form a very compact system", Michaël Gillon of Belgium's University of Liège, who led the research team, said in a teleconference, according to Time.

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Additionally, the planets are said to be tidally locked, also like our moon.

Most exoplanets discovered thus far are similar to Earth and researchers believe they possess organic matter, the building blocks of life.

The experts also found evidence of an additional 54 planets, bringing the potential discovery of new worlds to 114. The first exoplanet was discovered in 1988; since then, to date (February 22, 2017) some 3, 584 exoplanets have been detected.

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