Scientists find a trio of habitable planets


Scientists of the Liège University (ULg) have discovered a planetary system which is particularly appropriate in the search for extraterrestrial life. The system contains three planets comparable to the earth that can possibly create and support life.

Since the mid-nineties, astronomers have been discovering more than two thousand ‘exoplanets’ : planets outside our solar system. However, because of the enormous distances that are characteristic of the universe, it is difficult to determine whether or not there is life on those planets.  

Now, an international team of astronomers led by the Belgians Michaël Gillon and Emmanuël Jehin, both associated with ULg, has discovered 3 exoplanets at only 40 light years away from the earth and thus particularly suitable for the search for extraterrestrial life.

This discovery was done with the Belgian robotic telescope ‘TRAPPIST’ (acronym for  ‘TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope’), that has been used since 2010 by the La Silla observatory in Chile, Latin America. The 3 exoplanets orbit around a star which is considerably smaller and cooler than our sun and which is appropriately called TRAPPIST-1.

Astronomers responded with particular enthusiasm to this discovery as the hope of finding extraterrestrial life is one of the driving forces behind their discipline. The results of the ULg research have also been published in the authoritative magazine Nature.