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WASHINGTON, February 23. /TASS/. Astronomers have found seven Earth-sized exoplanets that could have some liquid water and three of which may have the potential to sustain life, scientists said at a special press conference hosted by NASA on Wednesday.
The exoplanets were discovered in the TRAPPIST-1 system by a team of researchers led by Michael Gillon, of the University of Liege in Belgium, who used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
Three of these planets close to TRAPPIST-1, which is only 39 light years away from the Earth, may be too hot and the furthest planet is likely too cold to host any kind of life. However, the middle three planets may lie in the habitable zone.
"This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’S Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "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."
Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, said: "The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets.".