22 March 2019
In one of the biggest discovery of the century NASA has released information regarding its latest discovery of a solar system with earth type seven planets. The discovery of these planets all of which are close to the size of the Earth and their positioning is such that they are warm enough to sustain water and life. The planets have been found in the Aquarius constellation and revolve around a Dwarf star named Trappist-1. The system is 40 million light years away from Earth, a distance of 235 trillion miles.
The star shines with feeble red light, compared to our Sun the Trappist-1 is 2000 times less shiny, the star is approximately the size of Jupiter. All the planets are huddled around the star closely, the closest planet completes the revolution in 1.5 days while the farthest one took 20 days. Standing on the fifth planet of the system, the star would be seen 10 times bigger than the Sun we see in our sky. Even other planets would be visible twice as big as the moon making the view breathtaking.
At first, astronomers reported three planets around the orbit of Trappist-1, which was named after the robotic telescope in the Chile. The telescope did not see the planets directly but the shadows from the planets. The seven-planet system provides the perfect opportunity for testing habitability, next year the largest space telescope James Webb Space Telescope will be launched into space and will allow astronomers to look deep into this new planet system. The dwarf stars like Trappist-1 are known to burst out ultraviolet and x-rays, which are life threatening but there is plenty of time for life forms to evolve.
The current discovery of seven planets is a new record for the number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star that too outside our solar system. According to NASA, all these seven planets could have liquid water provided right atmospheric conditions are present. With these planets being found outside our solar system, these seven planets are scientifically known as exoplanets. NASA has been working on far quite some time for finding life out of our solar system and also looking for habitable planets outside our Earth if and when a situation arises.
Using the data from Spitzer, astronomers measured the size and mass of these planets, which further helped in estimating the density. From the density calculations of these planets, it can be inferred that these seven planets are most likely rocky. The density of six planets has been calculated with the scientist believing that the seventh one may be icy a snowball-like world, but all that will be confirmed with more study and observation.
Coming to TRAPISST-1, this is an ultra-cool dwarf star and it will likely still be shining when our sun finishes out burning its fuel in next billion years. With its slow process of burning Hydrogen, the star will still be in its nascent stage at that time with billions of years of life further ahead. Since the star is less shiny and produces less amount of heat but even then liquid water could survive on these planets even though them being so close to TRAPISST-1. The closeness of these seven planets could be understood that the farthest planet is closer to TRAPISST-1 than Mercury is to our Sun.
Another thing to note here is that these planets may be tidally locked to their star, this will make the same side of the planet always facing the star, in simple terms, each side is perpetual day or night. This is similar to how Moon is tidally locked to our Earth and we are able to see only one side of it. With each side being a day or night there could be huge temperature changes between the two sides.
With the discovery of Earth-type planets in other solar systems the question of ‘if we will find life form to when’ is coming more closer. Who knows one day when our sun goes out, humans may be living on some far off planet with a new sun. Google in celebration of this big discovery of seven Earth-like planets has released a Google Doodle for the day and you can check that out below.