NASA has this week announced the discovery of a star system, TRAPPIST-1 which has not one, not two, not three, but SEVEN earth sized planets in it. That is the most discovered so far around a single star.
Of those, three are located in the habitable zone, where it is possible that water could exist. That isn’t to say that it does. Venus and Mars occupy the habitable zone in our solar system but aren’t what you would call habitable. There is the possibility though, which is what makes this find exciting.
And at just 40 light years away, Trappist-1 is a stones throw away on a galactic scale. That still makes them 235 trillion miles away so there is no chance of getting there any time soon.
What is really interesting about this system is that it a red dwarf, a star much smaller and cooler than our sun. It means that all of the planets are close in to their son, giving them ‘years’ that are just days in length. And given that they are so close, you could see all of the other ones with your naked eye if standing on the surface of them.
NASA’s Trappist-1 page is full of information, videos and of course artists impressions, about the system, as well as one of their glorious retro posters.
Google were quick off the mark with one of their animated gifs to celebrate the announcement.
As a writer this is really interesting. A system with seven planets would make a fun place to tell a story in, especially if you could colonise or terraform more than one of them.