Seven Earth-like planets discovered

Three are perfectly perched to harbour life-nurturing oceans of water,


Afp February 23, 2017
A picture of Earth and artist's interpretations of several exoplanets that could be like our own. From left: artist's impressions of Kepler-22b, Kepler-69c, Kepler-452b, Kepler-62f and Kepler-186f. A picture of Earth is at far right. PHOTO: NASA

PARIS: Researchers announced Wednesday the stunning discovery of seven Earth-like planets orbiting a small star in our galaxy, opening up the most promising hunting ground so far for life beyond the Solar System.

All seven roughly match the size and mass of our own planet and three are perfectly perched to harbour life-nurturing oceans of water, they reported in the journal Nature. Most critically, their proximity to Earth and the dimness of their red dwarf star, called Trappist-1, will allow astronomers to parse each one's atmosphere in search of chemical signatures of biological activity.

"We have made a crucial step towards finding life out there," said co-author Amaury Triaud, a scientist at the University of Cambridge. "Up to now, I don't think we have had the right planets to find out," he said in a press briefing. "Now we have the right target."

Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2017.

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