Posted by: maboulette | February 22, 2017

Information Released by Astronomers On Nearby Solar System


stars

Astronomers have found a nearby solar system with 7 Earth-sized planets, 3 of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, raising the outlook of life, research published on Wednesday showed.

TRAPPIST-1

The star, known as TRAPPIST-1, is a small, dim celestial body in the constellation Aquarius. It is located about 40 light years away from Earth. Researchers said the nearness of the system, combined with the proportionally large size of its planets compared to the small star, make it a good target for follow-up studies. They hope to scan the planets’ atmospheres for possible chemical fingerprints of life.

IS LIFE OUT THERE

“I think that we’ve made a crucial step towards finding if there is life out there,” University of Cambridge astronomer Amaury Triaud told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

NEW DISCOVERY

The discovery, published in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, builds on previous research showing three planets circling TRAPPIST-1. They are among more than 3,500 planets discovered beyond the solar system, or exoplanets.

EARTH SIZED PLANETS

Researchers have focused on finding Earth-sized rocky planets with the right temperatures so that water, if any exists, would be liquid, a condition believed to be necessary for life.

DIAMETER

The diameter of TRAPPIST-1 is about 8 % of the sun’s size. That makes its Earth-sized planets appear large as they parade past. From the vantage point of telescopes on Earth, the planets’ motions regularly block out bits of the star’s light. Scientists determined the system’s architecture by studying these dips.

“The data is really clear and unambiguous,” Triaud wrote in an email to Reuters.

SMALL AND COOL

Because TRAPPIST-1 is so small and cool, its so-called “habitable zone” is very close to the star. Three planets are properly positioned for liquid water, said lead researcher Michael Gillon, with the University of Liege in Belgium. 

“They form a very compact system,” Gillon said on a conference call. “They could have some liquid water and maybe life.”

Even if the planets do not have life now, it could evolve. TRAPPIST-1 is at least 500 million years old, but has an estimated lifespan of 10 trillion years. The sun, by comparison, is about halfway through its estimated 10-billion-year life.

OUR SUN

In a few billion years, when our sun has run out of fuel and the solar system has ceased to exist, TRAPPIST-1 will still be an infant star, astronomer Ignas Snellen, of the Netherlands’ Leiden Observatory, wrote in a related essay in Nature.

“It burns hydrogen so slowly that it will live for another 10 trillion years,” he wrote, “which is arguably enough time for life to evolve.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: