A new step forward in exoplanet science has made it to the news all around the planet! A system with 7 Earth-like planets has been discovered around the star TRAPPIST-1, an ultra cool dwarf much colder than our Sun located 12pc away. The planets were discovered using the TRAPPIST telescope and the VLT in Chile as well as using the space-based telescope Spitzer. The cool news is that this is the system with the largest number of Earth-like planets discovered to date and 3 of these planets are located in the habitable zone, and may have ocean of water on their surfaces. The HST may soon reveal some hints for the atmosphere composition of these planets. Let us wait for the JWST and the EELT to be able to probe water on these planets and potentially detect some biomarkers or evidence of life on these new planets!
Please see the press releases below to get more info or the actual paper:
ESO Press release: https://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1706/
NASA Press release: https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1419/nasa-telescope-reveals-largest-batch-of-earth-size-habitable-zone-planets-around-single-star/
Link to the scientific paper: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v542/n7642/full/nature21360.html
Link to some science-fiction short story happening around TRAPPIST-1: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v542/n7642/full/542512a.html
Artist Impression of the TRAPPIST-1 system (Credits: Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge)