NASA has already found tons of exoplanets around nearby stars, and will spot countless more once the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launches.
The problem is that scientists aren’t exactly sure which planet-star combinations are most likely to support life. A new NASA study has found that planets orbiting small stars like Trappist-1 could retain their oceans for billions of years, even if they’re quite close — provided the star emits just the right amount of infrared radiation.
For the foreseeable future, astronomers will be scanning red dwarf stars for habitable planets, rather than other types like our sun. That’s because they’re easier to find and small enough that the wobble of small, Earth-like planets is detectable. On top of that, the amount of light dip is noticeable when a planet passes in front, and scientists can detect the composition of its atmosphere based on how much starlight it absorbs.