Dr. Michaël Gillon — astronomer, University of Liège, Belgium — is known for his valuable contributions among the exoplanet discoveries. He has been a part of most important discoveries till the present. One of his recent project named as SPECULOOS —an alternative for ‘Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars’ — has discovered nearly seven planets of size as of Earth around the planetary system, TRAPPIST-1.
Located nearly 39.6 light years away from the sun, the system situated in Aquarius constellation was discovered by Gillon in 2017. The system —also named as 2MASS J23062928-0502285— is said to be more interesting system discovered ever. Firstly, before the official announcement about the discovery of system, astronomers were studying the former 3 planets detected there. On intense monitoring with the help of TRAPPIST—robotic telescope, Chile—and Spitzer Telescope—infrared space telescope, NASA— the astronomers were able to detect seven exoplanets rather than three.
According to Gillon, Since 1995, the space researchers have detected over 4000 exoplanets. It is now clear that most of the stars in our Milky Way have planetary system of their own. Among this heap of Exoplanets, only a few dozens of them are probably habitable. Gillon hopes for discovering more such planets so that researching their surface and atmospheric properties will raise the knowledge.
Till the date, the researchers are sure that planetary systems hold very large diversity. The exoplanets are diversified than the planets in our solar system. Some of the exoplanets are gas giants and surprisingly migrate inward whereas some of them are found in eccentric orbits or near double stars. There are some free-floating planets, too.
The exoplanets needed to be studied to reveal mysteries and questions such as detection of super-Earth, planet formation, estimating frequency of habitable planets having surfaced liquid water—as it is one of the key point which marks exoplanet habitable— and analyzing habitability in stars having low masses.