The universe just got a whole lot smaller.
NASA announced today that its Spitzer space telescope found a system of Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star. NASA said this discovery breaks a world record for most habitable zone-planets in a single star solar system.
Three of the planets within the system are likely within the habitable zone, too, according to NASA, which means they may have liquid water — a building block of life.
It’s possible that all planets within the system could have water, too, according to NASA.
“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”
These planets sit about 40 light-years (or about 235 trillion miles) away within the Aquarius constellation. The system is called TRAPPIST-1, which stands for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST), located in Chile, according to NASA.
These findings will be published in the medical journal Nature.
You can get a glimpse of these planets in the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory video below.
A discovery like this is rare, experts told CNN, because many of the planets within the system are similar to Earth.
"This is the first time that so many planets of this kind are found around the same star,” Michaël Gillon, lead study author, told CNN.
CNN reported that these planets are likely rocky, rather than gaseous or void of any surface. It’s possible that three planets — TRAPPIST-1e, f and g — may have oceans, too.
Amaury Triaud, one of the study’s authors, told CNN this makes finding life outside of Earth even more possible.
"I think we've made a crucial step toward finding if there is life out there," he told CNN. "I don't think any time before we had the right planets to discover and find out if there was (life). Here, if life managed to thrive and releases gases similar to what we have on Earth, we will know."
Twitter had some fun with the new announcement, aside from just nerding out.
People joked about sports and pop culture.
According to NASA, intelligent life located on seven new Earth-sized planets have also expressed ZERO interest in trading for Jay Cutler.— Brad Evans (@NoisyHuevos) February 22, 2017
So 3 of the 7 planets @NASA just discovered are habitable? I just hope we don't run into one of these on them: #TRAPPIST1 pic.twitter.com/KZENgPVYDZ— Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (@RustedMecha) February 22, 2017
Politics were also on people’s minds.
Trump: More earth-sized planets were discovered during my presidency than during Obama's.— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) February 22, 2017
When you get a push alert and it's about planets in outer space and not politics pic.twitter.com/pNnzwkZgwO— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) February 22, 2017
These artist renderings were pretty cool, too.
Artist rendering of what sky would look like from one of the planets in Trappist system pic.twitter.com/3BWPZkrDXJ— Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) February 22, 2017
So close to each other, you could see other planets like we see our Moon #trappist1 #nasa #exoplanet #science #nasaillustration pic.twitter.com/C1G2CjV07r— Petri Markkanen (@petrimarkkanen) February 22, 2017
People said these planets will be their new home.
so nasa has found a couple of new planets similar to earth. lol where do i sign up to go? i'm so done with this one.— charl (@lostsentience) February 22, 2017
ME: pls send me to the new planets i want to leave earbth— jonny sun (@jonnysun) February 22, 2017
NASA: theyre 40 light years away u'll die before u get there
ME: pls send me to th
NASA: “We just discovered 7 new Earth-sized planets”— Sean O'Kane (@sokane1) February 22, 2017
Others didn’t seem so surprised.
Everyone stoked about these new planets must not have seen "Independence Day."— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) February 22, 2017
https://twitter.com/billynitz/status/834476336349585408To sum up most people's thoughts:
My hot take on #Trappist1 planets: 7 Earth-size planets, 3 in the habitable zone (HZ): exciting!— Prof. Emily Rice, Ph.D. (@emilylurice) February 22, 2017
Ahhhh. I freaking love astronomy!! Really makes you have to think long and hard about our place in the scheme of things. #Trappist1— Jason Pellegrini (@JPellegrini1983) February 22, 2017