Abstract: Scientists have found a solar system containing seven earth-like planets. Now, some are wondering if they could contain life.
NATURE journal reported this week that astronomers found a cluster of planets orbiting a star just 39 light-years away from earth. It created a stir in the science and faith community.
The discovery marks the first time scientists have found a group of planets orbiting a single star. Researchers hope the planets will give them a better chance to study distant solar systems and the possibility of life on a planet other than our own.
"Before this, if you wanted to study terrestrial planets, we had only four of them and they were all in our solar system," said lead author Michaël Gillon, an exoplanet researcher at the University of Liege in Belgium. "Now we have seven Earth-sized planets to expand our understanding. Yes, we have the possibility to find water and life. But even if we don't, whatever we find will be super-interesting."
The newfound solar system looks a lot like our own.
Seven planets closely orbit around a central start called TRAPPIST-1. The star is less than a tenth the size of our sun and is warm enough to allow the orbiting planets to hold liquid water -- a staple for life. If the star was any bigger, all of the planets would be too hot and completely inhabitable.
Commentary -- While scientists and researchers are wondering if there is life on other planets, there is one thing Christians can be sure of -- God is the creator of all things.
The first words of the Bible declare this very truth: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1.1). These amazing scientific discoveries show that the "heavens declare the glory of God."
In the same way that gravity holds the moon, the stars, and the planets together, Jesus (the creator of gravity) holds our universe, our galaxies, and our lives together.
"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." - Colossians 1: 16-17
While the planets are mountainous and could possibly hold life, further study is required.
"You can bet people will be rushing to take those measurements," said Elisabeth Adams, an exoplanet researcher at the Planetary Science Institute. "That's going to be fascinating to see."
However, she cautions scientists against rushing to see if these new planets can sustain life.
"We don't actually know the parameters that are needed for life on another world," Adams said, "There are a lot of ways in which a planet could be like Earth, but not enough."
For years, scientists have found signs that the Milky Way Galaxy has more planets than once thought. This new discovery, they believe, presents the possibility that there might be life beyond earth.