Wednesday, February 22, 2017

NASA Announcement: 7 Earth-Like Planets in Trappist-1

NASA stated earlier in the week that it would make a big announcement on February 22nd. Well, the time has come. The announcement was not the discovery of extraterrestrials or anything of the like. It was involving exoplanets in the Trappist-1 system. Scientists using the telescope at ESO-La Silla, Chile were able to discover not one, but seven Earth-like planets. Most of the planets are nearly identical in size to Earth with one that is slightly larger. Three of them orbit in the habitable zone or "Goldilocks' Zone;" or the region in a solar system that allows for what we call life. Trappist-1 is a smaller star than our own Sun. Therefore, the conditions on the planets are near to that of Earth's. Since the star is small, the effect of its solar waves is not as a strong. Despite the planets orbiting it being close to this star, the effects are not hazardous.

For now, the planets are named Trappist 1b, c, d, e,f,g, and h. It is believed that the system formed about 500 million years ago. The planets orbit their star very closely compared to our own Solar System. Based on the data collected in regards to density, we can assume that these worlds are rocky just as the Earth. They also have water, which is believed to be a necessary factor for life in the universe. Astronomers were able to detect the planets via how they blocked the light from their star. With this information, they were able to tell the size of the planets and distance to their star. As to whether life exists on theses planets, we do not know. Nevertheless, it is possible that there may be life on these planets, possibly, bacteria lifeforms.

The discovery is awesome, however, we may never be able to step foot on these worlds anytime soon. These planets are trillions of light years away and would take nearly 4 million years to get there using our fastest rocket. If we could travel at the speed of light, it would take about 40 years to reach the planets. This goes to show how far they are from Earth. Nevertheless, the news is exciting. Perhaps we may find "Earth 2" out there or maybe worlds with lifeforms similar to human beings. In the meantime, all we can do is observe the skies and wonder what is out there.


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