Scientists have found a new solar system filled with planets that look like Earth and could support life, Nasa has announced.
At least three of the seven planets represent the “holy grail for planet-hunting astronomers”, because they sit within the “temperate zone” and are the right temperature to allow alien life to flourish, the researchers have said. And they are capable of having oceans, again suggesting that life could flourish on them.
No other star system has ever been found to contain so many Earth-sized and rocky planets, of the kind thought to be necessary to contain aliens.
The researchers might soon be able to find evidence of life on the planets, they have said. British astronomer Dr Chris Copperwheat, from Liverpool John Moores University, who was part of the international team, said: “The discovery of multiple rocky planets with surface temperatures which allow for liquid water make this amazing system an exciting future target in the search for life.”
Any evidence of life is likely to be “strong, very strong or conclusive”, the scientists said. It will be done by looking for what molecules are in the atmosphere – if they were to find things like oxygen, and in the right amounts, then it would probably indicate that there was biological activity.
Co-researcher Dr Amaury Triaud, of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, said: “We hope we will know if there’s life there within the next decade.”