On Wednesday, February 22, NASA announced the discovery of seven potentially habitable Earth-sized planets orbiting a tiny, ultra-cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1, located just 40 light years from Earth.

These alien worlds were observed by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. And their discovery sets a new record for the greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.

NASA issued a press release explaining that this discovery “sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.” The discovery is incredibly exciting because, as NASA explains, “All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.”

The details of the discovery are published in the journal Nature.