Major Space Discovery, TRAPPIST-1 System Has 7 Earth-Sized Exoplanets, 3 In Habitable Zone

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Published on Feb 22, 2017

Astronomers have never seen anything like this before: Seven Earth-size alien worlds orbit the same tiny, dim star, and all of them may be capable of supporting life as we know it, a new study reports. 

TRAPPIST-1 System Has 7 Earth-Sized Exoplanets, 3 In Habitable Zone.

The exoplanets circle the star TRAPPIST-1, which lies just 39 light-years from Earth — a mere stone's throw in the cosmic scheme of things. So speculation about the alien worlds' life-hosting potential should soon be informed by hard data, study team members said.

A bizarre alien system

TRAPPIST-1 is an ultracool dwarf star that's only slightly larger than the planet Jupiter and about 2,000 times dimmer than the sun. 

The research team, led by Michaël Gillon of the University of Liège in Belgium, originally studied the star using the TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST), an instrument at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. (This explains the star's common name; the object is also known as 2MASS J23062928-0502285.)

This is the first time that so many planets of this kind are found around the same star. All seven alien worlds occupy tight orbits, lying closer to TRAPPIST-1 than Mercury does to the sun. The orbital periods of the innermost six worlds range from 1.5 days to 12.4 days; the outermost planet, known as TRAPPIST-1h, is thought to complete one lap in about 20 days. 

Data gathered by the various telescopes suggest that all six inner planets are rocky, like the Earth; not enough is known about planet h to determine its composition. 

Because the seven alien worlds orbit so tightly, they're probably all tidally locked. That is, they likely always show the same face to their host star, just as Earth's moon only shows the "near side" to us.

TRAPPIST-1 is so dim and cool that its "habitable zone" — that just-right range of distances where liquid water could exist — is quite close to the star. And even tidally locked planets are thought to be potentially habitable, as long as they have atmospheres that can transport heat from the day side to the night side.

Space.com
http://www.space.com/35790-seven-eart...

Seven temperate terrestrial planets around the nearby ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/...

ESO
http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1706/
http://www.eso.org/public/archives/re...

NASA
https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/trappist1/

Clips, images credit: ESO, NASA & ESA/HUBBLE
Music credit: YouTube Audio Library
1) Faceoff by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-...
Artist: http://incompetech.com/
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Published on Feb 23, 2017

TRAPPIST-1 is an ultra-cool dwarf star located 39 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius.

Seven Earth-sized planets orbit an ultra cool dwarf star and the European Southern Observatory is calling it the “the most incredible star system (find) to date.
http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1706/

Astronomers have never seen anything like this before: Seven Earth-size alien worlds orbit the same tiny, dim star, and all of them may be capable of supporting life as we know it, a new study reports.
http://www.eso.org/public/archives/re...

Clips credit: ESO, NASA & ESA/HUBBLE

Music credit: Broken Reality by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/...)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-...
Artist: http://incompetech.com/

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