Updated 04:04 AM EDT, Tue, Sep 29, 2020

Mini 'Solar System' Discovered: Is Life Possible?

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As children, we've learned that the solar system is composed of the sun and nine orbiting planets. Even further, we may have known that this system is unique, housed in the Milky Way, a galaxy in the vast universe.

But as it turns out, a new discovery cited by Futurity brings us to thinking that another solar system might actually be out there -- in fact, in close distance to us.

As reported by the outlet, a new star was discovered by scientists through NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. The star is called EPIC 201367065, classified as an M-dwarf that's "about half the size and mass of our own sun."

Interestingly, it appears that EPIC is orbited by three Earth-sized planets, one of which was speculated to have temperatures capable of supporting water -- and where water can be, life is potentially born.

The planets, described by the paper to be small and cool, measure 1.5 - 2.1 times the size of our own Earth. The study claimed, "Such small planets with moderate insolation levels [the stellar energy received by the planet at the top of any atmosphere] are of considerable interest for their ability to host Earth-like atmospheres that could potentially support life."

According to Futurity, Erik Petigura, a graduate student from the University of California, Berkeley, discovered the planets on Jan. 6. The study was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation.

Recent news also revealed the discovery of two new planets, which may not be very surprising at first glance. However, Ars Technica reported that these planets may actually be part of our own Solar System.

The outlet took note of information from a recent study, which was based on observations of Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects (ETNOs). According to the report, these objects are far beyond Neptune's orbit, but nevertheless, they are thought to be influenced by gravitational forces.

Considering their distance from the sun, Ars Technica explained that the new planets are very hard to detect, as they're situated from a distance of 200 - 250 au (astronomical units). If you want a clearer picture, Universe Today took note of the conversion rate: 1 AU = 149,598,000 kilometers.

Surprisingly, the newly-discovered planets were thought to be larger than Earth, The Irish Times noted. That said, they're undoubtedly larger than Pluto.

As they have been suggested to belong within the Solar System, are we bound to welcome new members of the planetary chart? Will they be given official names? That we'll have to look after.

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