The significant discovery is the first time that such a large number of Earth sized planets have been discovered belonging to a single solar system.
Orbiting around a star named Trappist-1, the planets and solar system are approximately 40 light years from Earth.
The remarkable part of the announcement is that 3 of the Earth sized, potentially rocky worlds are in the goldilocks zone – the zone distance from the star which is capable of maintaining liquid water, and potentially life.
According to Amaury Triaud from the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University, thanks to the next generation of telescopes now at Earth’s disposal, not only will we soon be able to determine the type of atmosphere on these planets, we also should be able to confirm whether these planets host alien life within as little as the next decade.
“I think we’ve made a crucial step in finding out if there’s life out there,” he said. “If life managed to thrive and releases gases in a similar way as on Earth, we will know.”
What is also amazing and seemingly straight out of a science fiction movie, is that the scientists also believe that if you were to stand on the surface of one of these 3 planets, you would be able to see the other planets in the sky, much like our moon is visible to us.
After the amazing discovery, scientists will now be moving forward by utilising the Hubble Space Telescope to search for any indications of methane and water – potential indications that the planets are habitable and may host life. The James Webb Space Telescope incredibly in the near future should be able to tell us whether there is actual life on any of the planets.
“This means we might be in the business of looking for aliens in a decade, and not, as others have envisioned, on a much longer timescale,” said Professor David Charbonneau.
The next few years should be an extremely interesting and incredible time not only for science, but potentially answering some big questions for mankind.