NASA Releases First Images Of TRAPPIST-1 System

  • NASA Releases First Images Of TRAPPIST-1 System

NASA Releases First Images Of TRAPPIST-1 System

Artist's rendition of a TRAPPIST-1 planet. In addition to having a record-breaking number of rocky, Earth-size worlds, at least three of the Earth-size planets are in the "habitable zone" of the star, where liquid water could potentially exist on a planet's surface. What this means is, extraterrestrial life may have been seeded multiple planets over time, allowing them to inhabit each one and even evolve individually over time. The planets orbiting Trappist-1 are also very close to their star and each other.

A new study from Harvard University suggests that alien life could travel between the planets due to their close proximity to one another.

With the recent discovery of seven Earth-like planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, it's easy to imagine intergalactic empires, where aliens can take vacations to neighboring planets. "The unexpected opportunity to further study the TRAPPIST-1 system was quickly recognized and the agility of the K2 team and science community prevailed once again".

The Kepler spacecraft observed TRAPPIST-1 for 74 days starting in mid-December a year ago and the animation is a result of the photos taken once a minute for an hour on February 22.

The researchers say that when an asteroid or comet or any form of space rock collides into one of the planets, it may propel dirt into space which carries microbial life. "If there is life on one of them, life may be preserved inside these rocks and be transferred to another planet". This idea of travelling life is known as the theory of panspermia, and some scientists have suggested that life on Earth could have started in this way - by microbes from Mars hitchhiking their way to Earth after a large impact. The James Webb Space Telescope will be looking for atmospheres in the TRAPPIST-1 planets, which will help scientists analyze potential biosignatures and narrow down on other possible signs of life in the system.

An animation released by NASA shows the star with with some shifting brightness indicating the planets.

"We have three planets in the habitable zone, and that gives us three times of rolling the dice", Loeb says.