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In this week’s exciting installment, there are a lot more Earth-like planets that we thought and new insights are coming for TRAPPIST-1.

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The latest estimate of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way may shock you.

It wasn’t long ago that many thought we were the only earth-like planet in the galaxy. We have to say, it felt pretty lonely. Scientists hypothesized that other planets that could support life should exist, but our tech couldn’t get us a good look. That all changed when the Kepler Telescope launched in the late 2000s. Astronomers were able to “see” other planets orbiting neighboring stars by observing how the light from the star dimmed. Suddenly we weren’t the only game in town. There were other planets out there.

Kepler cataloged over 2,600 extrasolar (meaning out of our solar system) planets before running out of fuel and being retired in 2018. It turns out we’re not so special after all. To add insult to injury, the number of potential Earth-like planets just jumped astronomically (pun totally intended). In a recent study from Penn State, astronomers revisited the Kepler data and concluded that earth-like planets could orbit one in six sunlike stars. If you do a bit of math, that means there could be upwards of 10 billion (yes BILLION) Earth-like worlds in our home galaxy alone.

Read more about it here: https://www.businessinsider.com/10-billion-earth-like-planets-in-milky-way-galaxy-2019-8

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Hi, TRAPPIST-1, we’re Earth, and we want to get to know you better.

TRAPPIST-1 is our favorite nearby star. Its name makes us think of deliciously fantastic Trappist beers brewed by Trappist Monks in one of our favorite countries, Belgium. It also has a ludicrous number of earth-size planets orbiting it: seven. And, at only thirty-nine light-years away, it’s practically next door, relatively speaking. Yes, TRAPPIST-1 is special. In 2015, a group of Belgian astronomers (of course) discovered three of the earthly planets, and in 2017 the other four were found.

Now, there is a new telescope on the horizon that could determine whether or not the planets have an atmosphere in under a year. It’s called the James Webb Space Telescope or Webb for short. This awesome piece of human innovation can use its Near Infrared Spectrometer to do the analysis in less than ten passes of the star. That’s pretty amazing. Webb launches in 2021, so we could know by 2022 if there’s a planet that is suitable for life orbiting TRAPPIST-1.

Read more about it here: https://www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-trappist-1-exoplanets-problem.html

Do you think we are on the verge of discovering life on another planet? Let us know in the comments.

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