A few hours ago, NASA announced the discovery of a potentially habitable ‘Sister Solar System’ just 39 light-years away – boasting seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a star called TRAPPIST-1.
These planets appear to be made of rock, have life-friendly surface temperatures, and some could potentially host liquid water, so NASA went ahead and created a whole bunch of travel posters and fan art of the coolest new place in the Universe for us to get all misty-eyed about.
If you missed today’s announcement, head here right now to catch on everything, but the gist is that this solar system is the closest thing we’ve found so far to our own, with the researchers calling it “a compact analogue of the inner Solar System”.
It’s so compact, in fact, that if you were standing on the surface of one of these planets, the neighbouring planets in the sky would sometimes appear even larger than our Moon does to us.
The NASA team also suspects that the closest planet only takes 1.5 days to orbit the TRAPPIST-1 star, and the sixth planet takes 13 days.
Compare that to our own Solar System, where the closest planet, Mercury, takes 88 days to orbit the Sun, and the furthest planet, Neptune, takes 165 years.
We’ve got a whole lot more to learn about the TRAPPIST-1 system – and a lot of speculation that will need to be backed up by more data – but holy crap, this is an incredible discovery.
And NASA went all-out to mark the occasion, launching an entire website dedicated to our Sister Solar System, complete with travel posters, infographics, videos, and glimpses into the future of our investigations of TRAPPIST-1.
We’ve posted a few of the highlights below (get high-res versions here), and let’s just get it out there and say what everyone’s been thinking – please, please can there be aliens on this thing, we’ve waited so long!
Comparison of the inner Solar System compared to the TRAPPIST-1 system:
Size comparison to Earth: