Astrophysicists from the University of Liege using the TRAPPIST telescope have discovered a planetary system formed of three Earth-sized planets around an « ultracool red dwarf star » slightly bigger than Jupiter in size. While these planets are close to their host star, they are not exposed to very high temperatures and could harbor areas on their surfaces that are suitable for life. The new planetary system is only 40 light years away from Earth. This proximity should allow the future generation of large telescopes to study the atmosphere of these planets with precision. As of today, these planets are the most promising candidates for having liquid water or even life outside the solar system. Even though the news has just been published in the journal Nature, it is probably a safe bet that teams of astrophysicists over the world will be tripping over each other to study this planetary system. In the meantime, the team that made the surprising discovery only has eyes for “its” small nearby star…

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