Newly discovered planets are probably rich in water

MelkeveienMelkeveien.Photo: ESO/M. Kornmesser / NTB scanpix

Seven planets that were discovered recently around a dwarf star in the Milky Way could prove to hold large amounts of water, shows new analysis.

 

The seven stars that circle around the dwarf star, ‘TRAPPIST-1’ are possibly habitable. Researchers said that they have analysed photos from several observatories who had reviewed the planets last year.

The study showed that the planets mainly consist of rock, and that some of the planets potentially hold more water than Earth. The density of the planets showed that some of them could hold as much as 5% water. By comparison, the water on Earth makes up 0.02% of the planet’s mass.

‘So far, there are no signs that indicate these planets are not habitable.

All traffic lights we’ve passed so far have been green,’ said Amaury Triaud, astronomer at the Birmingham University, to AFP news agency.

39 light years

TRAPPIST-1 is located 39 light years away from our own solar system. It is the most promising finding so far when it comes to finding prerequisites for life outside of our own solar system, according to the international research team.

‘Densities are important in understand the composition of the planets, but do not say anything about habitation. But our survey is an important step forward as we continue to investigate whether these planets could be habitable,’ said Brice-Olivier Demory, co-author of the study, made by the University of Bern,European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Compared to our own solar system, the seven planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system are very close to each other. They are also affected by each other’s gravity, unlike the Earth’s neighbouring planets.

New planets

Finding planets occurs more and more often after the finding of the first planet outside our solar system in 1995. According to NASA, about 3,400 planets are orbiting stars in other solar systems in our galaxy.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains an estimated 200-300 billion stars. The finding of the seven planets are further evidence that our galaxy could contain tens of millions of planets, far more than previously thought, which are similar to our own planet.

According to estimates from NASA, the universe may consist of at least 2,000 billion
galaxies.

 

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today

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