Looking into the night sky, it’s easy to get lost imagining what’s really out there. Are we alone in the universe? Will we one day be forced to leave our planet and colonize other worlds? The deep expanse of the universe often creates more questions than answers. This dope discovery of seven earth-like planets is one more reason why we love learning about the cosmos. Imagine the furthest journey you’ve been on. How long did it take? How much distance did you cover? For the sake of reference, Los Angeles to New York is 3,000 miles. The distance between Earth and Neptune is 2.7 billion miles. This recent, remarkable scientific discovery is 40 light-years away. A single light-year is 6 trillion miles. The distance is unimaginable.
“It would be disappointing if Earth represents the only template for habitability in the Universe…”
These recently detected planets may not be so different from our own solar system, however. The seven planets, named Trappist-b, c, d, e, f, g and h, also orbit a single star: the aptly-named Trappist-1, a cool, low-mass star. Amazingly, scientists believe that at least three of these planets may be able to support life. Dr. Michaël Gillon, co-author of these phenomenal findings, told BBC News that “[Trappist-1] is so small and cold that the seven planets are temperate, which means that they could have some liquid water—and maybe life, by extension—on the surface.” Perhaps the largest indicator of whether life can exist or not in these planets is the phenomenon of tidal locking – when a planet revolves around its star, the same side of the planet always faces the star, making one side continually warm, and the other cold. The dark side of the planet doesn’t necessarily eschew all life, however. Scientists believe that organisms could actually be protected from harsh solar flares in the cooler half of the planet.
“It would be disappointing if Earth represents the only template for habitability in the Universe,” co-author of the Trappist findings Dr. Amaruy Triaud told BBC News. The ingredients for life to thrive are certainly complex, but it would be unreasonable to believe Earth is the only planet in the cosmos capable of breeding life. If these planets could support organisms, what would this mean? Are there scientists on Trappist-b currently reporting their findings of a strange planet called Earth? Could these societies be more advanced, currently laughing at the mess we’ve made of our planet? Or are they slowly evolving, stuck in a type of Cro-Magnon form? The possibilities are endless. We look forward to hearing the new discoveries to come.