Google celebrates exoplanet discovery with new doodle

Google celebrates exoplanet discovery with new doodle

Google today dedicated a doodle to celebrate the discovery of seven new Earth-like planets in a solar system just 40 light years away, which could have liquid water and possibly host alien life.

The colourful, animated doodle, created by US artist Nate Swineheart, shows Earth peering into a telescope, through which a small planet comes into view next to a star.

Next, six of its companion planets quickly jump into view. Earth and the Moon are then seen excitedly celebrating.

"Got to help welcome our new neighbors after @NASA's amazing #TRAPPIST1 announcement with a #GoogleDoodle! (Earth, like me, is VERY excited.)" Swineheart said in a tweet.

"This just in! Turns out it wasn't just dust on the telescope lens: NASA just announced the discovery of seven earth-size planets orbiting the same star only 235 trillion miles away. In space terms, that practically makes us next-door neighbors!" Google said.

Astronomers discovered the first known system of seven exoplanets, setting a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.

Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water, NASA said.

In contrast to our Sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star - classified as an ultra-cool dwarf - is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system.

All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very close to each other.

"If we're able to visit one of the TRAPPIST-1 planets one day, we could be able to watch each neighboring planet pass by on its orbital journey!" said Google.

"Until then, you can explore TRAPPIST-1 d, the third planet in the TRAPPIST-1 solar system in 3D using your computer or mobile device. If you have a virtual reality device, you can also take a stroll around," it said.

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