Scientists at NASA and ESO (European Southern Observatory) have recently discovered a new solar system which they believe can and might already support alien life on at least three of its planets. Those planets are in the “habitable zone” according to the NASA and ESO scientists.
The solar system has seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a “red dwarf star.” NASA astronomers report that at least three of these planets are capable of sustaining life on them due to the presence of oceans and the right temperature, with the six inner ones having a rocky surface just like that of Earth. This does mean that finding a planet similar to Earth is now a matter of “when” rather than “if”.
The other four planets are expected to hold, at the very least, liquid water and thus be able to sustain alien life. However, scientists are also very uncertain about how much life can be sustained by these planets since they are very small, close to each other much like Jupiter’s moons, and cold.
This is a huge breakthrough and much more exciting than an earlier announcement which said that the scientists had identified a small number of “exoplanets” believed to be able to sustain life. The establishment of some of these planets having the same surface structure as that of Earth is being claimed as an “accelerated leap forward”.
Furthermore, the discovery of this solar system is the first where scientists have found another planetary system with so many similarities to Earth, including “the Earth-sized planets and the largest number of worlds that could support liquid water” and they are very hopeful that this will lead to them finding alien life.
Researchers hope to find this alien life by looking for other similarities to Earth such as the right amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere thus pointing strongly towards some sort of biological activity. They hope to be able to find out more about existing life on the planet by the end of the next decade.
Besides, researchers have also said that they are not too worried if they do not find signs of life on the planets since the star is still very young – young enough that even when our own source of light, the sun, has died out, this star will still be classified as an infant – and life could develop on them (the sun is 4.6 billion years old while this star is merely 500 million years).
The planetary system is thirty nine to forty light years away from Earth and that’s a very short distance on the cosmic scale – practically right next door. This could mean that we have neighbours who might not be too different from us.
Via The Independent