NASA's latest discovery will leave you in total shock and awe. The agency announced on Feb. 22 that it's discovered a whole new solar system with seven plants — and three of them are within the "habitable zone."
The solar system is called TRAPPIST-1, named after the telescope The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST), which helped find the first three planets. It's similar to our own solar system; it consists of seven planets, is 40 light years away, and orbits around a giant star (though this one is smaller). Three of the planets in this system exist in the "habitable zone, an area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water." NASA believes that all seven planets might have liquid water on their surface, but it's most likely the three planets closest orbiting around the star definitely have it — making life possible.
Astronomers also believe that these planets could be "tidally locked to their star," which would mean that one side is always day and the other night. It could also signify that these planets have different weather than we do here on Earth.
This is the first time astronomers have ever made such a discovery. "Answering the question 'are we alone' is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, in a press release.
The image above shows an artist concept of what the solar system could look like. The illustration below is another artist concept of what the surface of a planet could be like in this system.
You can learn more about the TRAPPIST-1 system by watching the video below. All these findings are published in the science journal Nature.