Come take an immersive tour of the latest exoplanet discovery

23 Feb 2017

Image: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

The discovery of seven exoplanets by NASA has sent the scientific community into a spin, with VR tours and Google Doodles galore.

In one of the more contemporary Google Doodles of the genre, today’s interactive doodle celebrates the discovery of seven new Earth-like planets.

Of those seven, most could sustain water. Better still, three reside in what astronomers call the ‘habitable zone’.

Exoplanet discovery

235trn miles from Earth, the solar system was discovered by TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope), a 60cm telescope.

Unlike our solar system, the planets in TRAPPIST-1 are very close together. So if we ever get to visit one of the planets, we could view the others as they orbit.

For example, this VR 360-degree tour of TRAPPIST-1d, one of the planets in the newly discovered solar system, shows you what could be visible.

Google Doodle

As revealed yesterday by, one of the key people at today’s announcement was Belgian astronomer Michael Gillon, who has spent years studying exoplanets using TRAPPIST.

While dwarf star systems like this have been considered potential hotspots for finding ‘Earth 2.0s’ and harbouring extraterrestrial life, TRAPPIST-1 is the first of its kind to be discovered.

Described as an “amazing” planetary system by Gillon, TRAPPIST-1 is tiny in comparison to our own sun, with just 8pc of its mass, and is only slightly bigger than Jupiter.

To celebrate the discovery, Google has created a special doodle of the new solar system.

Exoplanet discovery

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic