Planet Hop at TRAPPIST-1

TRAPPIST-1 system illustration. Credit: NASA

TRAPPIST-1 system illustration. Credit: NASA

The recent discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system is still buzzing around with extraordinary mysteries and questions anxious to be answered!

The TRAPPIST-1 system was first dissevered in 2015 with only three tiny planets orbiting the dim, cool dwarf star using the TRAPPIST instrument, thus naming it TRAPPIST-1 system. 

TRAPPIST is the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope at the La Silla Observatory, Chile. By using transit photometry, more planets around the TRAPPIST-1 star were found- counting up to seven as of 2017!

The TRAPPIST star is approximately 11% the size of the sun and less than 10% the mass. The proximity of the planets, for any chance of habitability, must be placed really close to its parent star for heat and water liquidity. 

The planets themselves are not well known…yet. We do know by the movement that these are terrestrial type planets. The sizes are mostly all Earth-sized. Three orbit within the potential Habitable Zone (meaning liquid water is possible!!!) 

"Planet-hopping" has been coined for astrobiological phenomena to hop from planet to planet as the planets in this system are very close, almost as close as our Moon. 

More exciting information should come about with the new James Webb Telescope!

Thank you for reading and next week- a look at Terraforming!

Caitlin Ahrens