Today NASA announced another exciting find in its quest to find exoplanets and habitable worlds. TRAPPIST-1 is an ultracool dwarf star 40 light-years from space and today astronomers announced the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets, three of which are in the star’s habitable zone and could host oceans of surface water.
Full details on today’s find can be found in this press release, Temperate Earth-Sized Planets Found in Extraordinarily Rich Planetary System TRAPPIST-1, with accompanying videos.
NASA Press Conference
On June 23, 2015, Sara Seager, a Canadian born astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT, and on the team that discovered TRAPPIST-1, gave the Convergence Public Lecture at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo.
The lecture provides a good background on exoplanets and the current state of find them.
Convergence Public Lecture – Sara Seager: Exoplanets and the Search for Habitable Worlds
“Thousands of exoplanets are known to orbit nearby stars, with further evidence that every star in our Milky Way Galaxy has planets. Beyond their discovery, a new era of “exoplanet characterization” is underway with an astonishing diversity of exoplanets driving the fields of planet formation and evolution, interior structure, atmospheric science, and orbital dynamics to new depths. The push to find smaller and smaller planets down to Earth size is succeeding and motivating the next generation of space telescopes to have the capability to find and identify planets that may have suitable conditions for life or even signs of life by way of atmospheric biosignature gases. After thousands of years of people wondering “Are we alone?”, we are the first generation in human history to be able to make quantitative progress in answering this age-old question.”
The Quest for Exoplanets: Sara Seager Interview at Perimeter
“During a 2015 interview at Perimeter Institute, Sara Seager (Professor of Planetary Science and Physics, MIT) explains why exoplanet research is at a tipping point. Watch her full lecture at Perimeter’s Convergence conference.”
Some exoplanets discovered so far: Sara Seager at Perimeter Institute