NASA and the University of Liege in Belgium have discovered three exoplanets that could support life. (Source: NASA/YouTube)
The Trappist-1 system visualized. (Source: NASA)
(RNN) - NASA and the University of Liege in Belgium have discovered seven, new Earth-sized planets orbiting Trappist-1, a nearby star that is cooler and smaller than the Sun.
Three of these planets fall within the habitable zone and could harbor liquid water.
Trappist-1 is nearly 40 light years away from the Earth.
The Spitzer Space Telescope made the discovery.
Trappist-1e is the closest habitable planet to Trappist-1, followed by Trappist-1f, and Trappist-1g. All are thought to be rocky planets.
The distance between these planets is approximated to be roughly three times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
"The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not a matter of if, but when," said Thomas Zurbechen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
The NASA Jet Propulsion Labratory at CalTech created this short video, which details the discovery:
NASA has published a poster that depicts the Trappist-1 solar system from the surface of Trappist-1e; you would be able to see multiple planets without a telescope or other aid.
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which launches in 2018, could tell us more about the planets as early as 2020.
The news conference featured five professionals from astronomy-related fields:
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
Michael Gillon, astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium
Sean Carey, manager of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC, Pasadena, California
Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore
Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) will be held following the news event at 3 p.m. Scientists will be available to answer questions in English and Spanish.
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