I can haz 2 tkts 4 heer nao plz.


Artist’s conception of the view from the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)


A newfound solar system just 39 light-years away contains seven warm, rocky, Earthlike planets, scientists say.

The discovery, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, represents the first time astronomers have ever detected so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star. Researchers say the system is an ideal laboratory for studying distant worlds and could be the best place in the galaxy to search for life beyond Earth.

“Before this, if you wanted to study terrestrial planets, we had only four of them and they were all in our solar system,” said lead author Michaël Gillon, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Liège in Belgium. “Now we have seven Earth-sized planets to expand our understanding. Yes, we have the possibility to find water and life. But even if we don’t, whatever we find will be super interesting.”

Only 39 light years? Pfft. I travel at least that far effortlessly every time I dream, so really how hard can it be? In my view, the most pressing question has nothing to do with how much oxygen, nitrogen, liquid water, etc. etc. these seven planets might have. The only question I really need answers to before I cash out everything I have on Earth and launch myself in that general direction is how many conservatives.

One is one too many.


  1. quotetheunquote says

    OMG, indeed.

    I am totally in tune with your sentiments here (if not your orthography,,,) – “Oo! Oo! Me! Pick me, pick me, I sooooo wanna go!”

    This is the kind of story that really makes physics just so damned irritating; I mean, couldn’ t we have just a little bit of FTL travel, just a wee tiny bit, like maybe 1.5c? Is that so much to ask?

    A body could make the round-trip in a human lifetime then; we could go, take some pictures, come back, do a slide show of our hols for the great-grandkids….


    P.s. You’re worried about squirrels? Hell, those places could be crawling with bandersnatchii, I’d still go.

  2. says

    I’ve got a post about this going up on March 1 (part of my Astronomy Picture of the Week series). This is so incredible. Phil Plait gives a timely warning not to start claiming we’ve found alien life, but still…

    I cannot wait for the James Webb Space Telescope. I hope they decide to point it here, first…

  3. Johnny Vector says

    Note that the sun will stay on the horizon forever in that image, because the planets are almost certainly tidally locked to their star. That means you can’t go far east or west without either freezing or boiling. On the upside, it’s a cinematographer’s heaven, because it’s always golden hour!

    Sadly, JWST is unlikely to be able to see anything interesting in this system. The planets are way too close to the star to be resolved by it (or any conceivable future telescope*), so any spectra you do get will be dominated by the star. And by “dominated” I mean “the star’s light will be a million times brighter than the planet’s”.

    *As it happens, I am currently in the middle of a preliminary design campaign for various options for the next major space telescope, and I can tell you there are some crazy amazing ideas for the future. None of them will come close to imaging this system.