About a year ago, scientists discovered seven planets almost the size of the Earth that orbit a star 40 light-years away from our planet. Now, astronomers are offering more details about these potentially habitable planets after making observations using the Hubble Space Telescope. The journal Nature Astronomy recently published their results. The TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets got their name from the red dwarf star they orbit. Scientists named the star after the Belgian beer that is brewed in a monastery called Trappist, the favorite kind of the astronomers who made the discovery.
At the moment, the TRAPPIST system looks the most promising when it comes to finding potentially habitable planets outside our solar system. Even if 40-light years away does not sound too far, it would still take us millions of years to get there. However, when it comes to research, it is out best bet. According to Michaël Gillon, an author of the study, everything might look like a sci-fi movie scenario. And yet, this system of planets is real. It’s important to know that the system is most likely older than our own. Also, the seven planets it holds are probably much richer in water than the Earth.
The fascinating and promising TRAPPIST-1 system
The red dwarf star they orbit has a mass about 9% of that of the Sun. It’s actually only a bit larger than Jupiter. The planets are also very close to each other, making it easier for experts to study them in depth. If someone were to stand on the surface of one of the planets, they would get 200 times less light than on Earth. However, they would still be warm because of the proximity of the dwarf star. Also, the person would witness an otherworldly view, with all the other planets appearing as big as the moon.
According to the study, the planets are not gaseous, but rocky. It seems that their atmospheres resemble those of the Earth and Venus. Now, the next step is to try and uncover more of their secrets. And finally, to make sure whether they are habitable or not.
Image source: nasa.gov