Finding seven “Earth-sized” worlds orbiting within the Habitable Zone (HZ) of a nearby dwarf star is definitely something worth celebrating — even if one has to “fudge” the HZ parameters for four of them to make that happen.

Behold, TRAPPIST-1:

Image result for trappist-1

(https://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/news/world/2017/02/22/what-to-know-about-the-newly-discovered-trappist-1-solar-system/exoplanets2.jpg)

The star in question is a red dwarf located roughly 40 light years away, and the worlds were detected using the Belgian-based TRAPPIST telescope system.  Because we’re dealing with a red dwarf star, and therefore the HZ is much closer to the star itself, chances are very good that most, if not all, of the exoplanets will be tidally-locked to TRAPPIST-1.

The fact that all seven exoplanets are more-or-less Earth-sized, and that at least three of them reside within TRAPPIST-1’s actual HZ, implies the very real possibility that up to three of those worlds, maybe more, could actually hold liquid water and even some form of life.

Like everything else in the Universe, the TRAPPIST-1 system has its own website:  http://www.trappist.one/

Of course, the TRAPPIST telescope itself has a website…:  http://www.trappist.ulg.ac.be/cms/c_3300885/en/trappist-portail

We could literally be within a year or two of confirming a truly Earth-like world, with the launch of the James Webb telescope next year.  If this new-fangled space telescope happens to catch sign of oxygen and methane co-mingling in the atmosphere of at least one of those exoplanets, then it is generally agreed that the possibility for life as we know it is considered to be quite strong since normally atmospheric oxygen and methane readily react to create new compounds (ie, if these gases are detected in noticeable amounts it means these gases are being replenished – the most efficient candidate we Humans currently know of is Life itself).

No matter how one looks at it, the TRAPPIST-1 system is exciting for Science and Humanity in general; unlike Gliese 581 and Gliese 667 C before, TRAPPIST-1’s worlds are confirmed with great confidence; the next step is to spectroscopically analyze the atmospheres of those seven worlds in the hope of detecting the ever-promising O2 + CH4 combination as a promising indication of an alien biosphere.

It just keeps getting better and better!!