This has thrilled astronomers with raised hopes of the hunt for alien life beyond the solar system
According to report which surfaced on Wednesday, February 22, the planets were detected using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and several ground-based observatories.
Earlier this month, astronomers announced that they had evidence of perhaps as many as 114 new exoplanets. One of those newly-discovered planets was a a hot, rocky “super Earth” called Gliese 411b.
The first exoplanet was confirmed to have been discovered in 1992. Since then, thousands of others have been detected.
Speaking at a news conference announcing the discovery, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, said: “The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when.”
The seven exoplanets (a planet that orbits a star other than our Sun) were all found in tight formation around an ultracool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1, about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles from Earth.
Three of the new planets are claimed could sustain oceans. They are in the habitable zone of the star, known as TRAPPIST-1e, f and g.
Estimates of their mass also indicate that they are rocky planets, rather than being gaseous like Jupiter.
According to the Open Exoplanet Catalog, more than 3,400 have been confirmed. Of these, less than a dozen are thought to be well suited to supporting life, and NASA said only three previously known exoplanets were as ideal as those in the new solar system.
To mark this Earth-shattering discovery, Google has made a Doodle, featuring the seven planets squeezing into view on the earth's telescope.