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NASA Finds 7 Earth-Size Planets

40 light-years away, orbiting dwarf star Trappist-1
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 22, 2017 12:25 PM CST
NASA: 7 Earth-esque Planets Could Potentially Hold Life
NASA announced Wednesday it had found seven Earth-size planets orbiting a dwarf star that could potentially hold life.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – For the first time, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a nearby star—and these new worlds could hold life, reports the AP. NASA and the Belgian-led research team announced the news Wednesday. This cluster of planets is 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. They circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter. Three planets are in the so-called habitable zone, where water, and possibly life, might exist. The others are right on the doorstep.

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Scientists say they need to study the atmospheres before determining whether these planets could support some type of life. Last spring, the University of Liege's Michael Gillon reported finding three planets around Trappist-1. "This is the first time that so many planets of this kind are found around the same star," he says, per CNN. Now the count is up to seven, and Gillon says there could be more. (Read more exoplanet stories.)

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