Star system “Trappist 1” Houses Earth-like Planets
UPDATE: Press conference video has been added. First video.
Today, NASA hosted a press conference to present their latest findings from the Spitzer Space Telescope. The NASA shared the discovery of a solar system close to our own called Trappist-1. The discovery is significant due to the fact that not one, not two, but three planets offer the viability to host life. However, there is no conclusive evidence at this time. Some time in 2018, NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope. JWST gives us the ability to detect and measure a number of metrics, including a planet’s atmosphere. But for now, NASA plans to continue searching and studying.
Trappist-1 could have more than the three Earth-like planets, but they fall outside of the habitable zone. The habitable zone is “the orbital region around a star in which an Earth-like planet can possess liquid water on its surface and possibly support life. Liquid water is essential to all life on Earth, and so the definition of a habitable zone is based on the hypothesis that extraterrestrial life would share this requirement.” (Britannica.com, 2016)
Trappist-1 (the ultra-cool dwarf star) is 40 light-years (378 trillion km) from Earth according to NASA.gov. If you’re wondering “Is Trappist-1 the closest solar system that can host a habitable planet?” The answer is “no”. Proxima Centauri was discovered last year to have a potentially viable planet within its habitable zone and is much closer. In comparison, Proxima Centauri is only 4.25 light-years (40.14 trillion km) away from our solar system.
The videos below show some infographics from the press conference. When the full press conference is available, I’ll update this post.