The Seven Planets
As announced on February 22, a cluster of seven planets in the Trappist-1 solar system was discovered using NASA's Spitzer space telescope. This is the first known system of earth-like planets surrounding one star. All seven have the conditions for the possible presence of water, but the three planets in the habitable zone are especially likely to contain water.
The results of this discovery were first published in the scientific journal Nature by a team of researchers. The results go on further to discuss the planetary transits, size, mass, orbit, and irradiation, which affects a planet's ability to hold water.
The Seven Women
The seven female researchers who contributed to this discovery are Katherine M. Deck, Susan M. Lederer, Emeline Bolmont, Laetitia Delrez, Catarina S. Fernandes, Valerie Van Grootel, and Yasmeen Almleaky. These women work in the fields of geology, optical science, astrophysics, and astronomy, to name a few. Out of the 30 researchers who contributed, these seven women are certainly in the minority. However, they make up approximately 23 percent of the research team. This definitely reflects an increase in female participation in astronomy and physics, and illustrates the ever-increasing presence of women in STEM fields. Next week, I will focus on one of these female scientists and the work she did for this project.