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NASA Discovers Seven New Planets around Dwarf Star “TRAPPIST-1” A huddle of seven worlds was found around a small, faint star, known as TRAPPIST1 in the constellation of Aquarius. The first three were discovered in May 2016 however, the other four were found on Wednesday 22 February 2017. Discovered by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, this is the first time that so many Earth- sized planets have been found in orbit around the same star, 3 of which are firmly in a habitable zone. The seven planets closely circle the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 which is 39 lightyears away from Earth (235 trillion miles), making it a prime candidate to search for signs of life. This group of planets are so closely positioned together, that the seventh planet takes only 21 days to orbit the star. Evidence suggests that if a person was standing on one of the planet’s surfaces, they could gaze up and potentially see features of another world. The TRAPPIST-1 star is so cool that liquid water could be sustained on planets orbiting in close proximity to it, closer than any other planets in our solar system. This major discovery has raised hopes that the hunt for other life beyond our solar system could start sooner than we originally thought, along with the new generation of telescopes due to come within the next decade. We interviewed science teacher, Mr Wainwright, and asked him about how he heard about this discovery and his view on the topic. He answered with: “I heard about it through twitter and scientists that I follow. I think that it will give us a whole new area to focus on. I think it would be shallow and naive to assume that we are the only life form in the universe.” We also interviewed science teacher Mr Ruston and asked the same question. He responded with: “I found out through NASA’s website and twitter. I think that the subject is interesting. I think there could be life in a long way to come. It is all about the theoretical understanding of potential life on other planets.” The planets may be tidally locked onto their star, meaning that the same side of the planet is always facing the star. This could mean that they may have different weather patterns which would create strong winds and extreme temperature changes. In addition to this, evidence shows that the planets are likely to be rocky and further observations will determine if they have liquid water on their surfaces. Research is still being carried out, however more complex and convincing molecular signatures may be found by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope which is due to launch next year. Furthermore, there are other instruments such as the Giant Magellan which is due to switch on in 2023.