NASA discovers seven new planets


The Trappist-1 System Image Credit/ NASA

Nick Tighe, Contributer

NASA may have won the debate over whether there is life in the universe.

According to Forbes, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) discovered seven, new, earth-like exoplanets outside of our solar system.

The planets consist of mostly rock and are called TRAPPIST-1. They are named after the telescope that was used to make the discovery.

NASA representatives said that three of the seven planets may be able to sustain human life.

Dr. Craig Johnson, professor of mathematics, teaches an astronomy class and offered some insight on the new discovery.

Johnson said that he believes there are other livable planets in the universe.

“It is almost certain that many planets exist in our universe that are livable due to the sheer number of possibilities,” Johnson said.

The Milky Way itself is large enough to contain other planets, according to Johnson.

“Our Milky Way galaxy alone has over 200 billion stars, many of which probably have planets orbiting them,” Johnson said. “Since there are also billions of galaxies, that is a lot of planets.”

Johnson said a planet needs several things in order to sustain life including water and an atmosphere containing oxygen and other necessary gases.

“Over 1000 exoplanets [outside of the solar system] have been identified but only indirectly, not through actual pictures,” Johnson added. “Getting a visual of a planet near a star is like trying to see a speck of dust at the edge of a giant searchlight at a distance of many kilometers.”

Johnson said that NASA’s next step is to try and obtain a spectral signature, which he defined as a measurement made of a planet’s or star’s atmosphere, of the new planets’ atmospheres to look for water.

Angela Ngo, a pre-physician assistant major, said she thinks the discovery is “really cool.”

Ngo said, “It’s awesome to be living in a time when we are making breakthroughs about space and I can’t wait to see what else we find.”

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