Is there another Earth? UW scientists says maybe - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Is there another Earth? UW scientists says maybe

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Scientists at the University of Washington say two planets approximately 40 light years away from ours could be just like Earth. 

UW is part of an international scientific collaboration studying the TRAPPIST 1 solar system. The TRAPPIST 1 system orbits around a star 12 times less massive than the Sun and only slightly larger than Jupiter. It contains at least seven planets in orbit and is the closest known solar system to our own. This is where the potential earth-like planets are located. 

Scientists at the UW say at least two of the seven planets believed to be orbiting the star are giving strong indications that they are rocky and likely to contain water. Scientists say that the planets have sizes and masses comparable to Earth and Venus. 

"What we do know about these planets, is we know their sizes," U.W. astrophysicist Eric Agol tells KING 5. "And recent estimates we have has given us their masses." Agol says their densities suggest that they're not planets made up of gas, but rock.

"The interesting thing about these planets is they are orbiting so quickly and packed so closely," says Agol to KING 5. A "year" aboard a TRAPPIST 1 planet is roughly 20 Earth days. With seven planets in the system to study, TRAPPIST 1 gives astronomers a great deal of data to work with.

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