The Seven New Wonders of Space

Johanna Guerrero, Editor-in-Chief

NASA Spitzer

 

Earlier last week, NASA announced the discovery of seven planets in the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system. The seven planets were found by TRAPPIST, the TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope.

 

According to www.trappist.one

“All the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system transit their star, meaning that they pass in front of it. The planets were discovered from the regular and repeated shadows that are cast during transit. Thanks to the transit signals we could measure the orbital periods of the planets and could calculate the sizes of the planets. The exact time at which the planets transit also provide us with a means to measure their masses, which leads to knowing their densities and therefore their bulk properties. The planets are consistent with a rocky composition.”

“We found that the planets have sizes and masses comparable to the Earth and Venus. Because we know the distance of the planets to their star, and the temperature of the star, we can deduce that they receive an amount of light that is similar to many of the planets in the Solar system, from Mercury to beyond Mars.”

 

“TRAPPIST-1 is huge for interest in deep space exploration!” said astronomy club president, senior Ryllie Sewell. “The system has 3 planets that are located in a habitable zone, like Earth is in our solar system, and could potentially be Earth like. It being only 40 light years away (which is still extremely far compared to how fast we can travel currently) is amazing!”

 

They list among several reasons that searching for planets under these conditions will mean these planets are smallーof a calculable radius and mass with current technologyーand have climates that although may be different to that of the Earth, will reflect the normal climates of most planets outside our solar system.

The size, density, masses, and received lights of the planets are comparable to that of Earth and planets past Mars.

Most of what the TRAPPIST-1 team searches for are planets orbiting ultra-cool dwarf stars.

An ultra-cool star is one which has a size that is 15% of the size of our solar system’s sun.

 

“This means that we can remotely study the climates of terrestrial worlds beyond our Solar system! The TRAPPIST-1 worlds are the most optimal currently at our disposal. They are providing humanity with it first opportunities at discovering evidence of biology beyond the Solar system,” according the TRAPPIST-1 team from their official website.

 

“If this doesn’t inspire people to look towards the stars, I don’t know what will. I’m most excited about the fact that there are 3 planets in the habitable zone. Their orbits are much smaller compared to ours, which allows for this. If they’re located in this zone, there is potential for life,” said astronomy club president Ryllie Sewell.