Do you remember the sensational discovery made recently about the TRAPPIST-1 solar system? TRAPPIST-1 is an ultra-cool red dwarf star located 39.6 light years (12.1 pc) from the Sun in the constellation of Aquarius.
Seven temperate terrestrial planets have been detected in orbit around the star, a number greater than that detected in any other planetary system.
WELL, AS A RESULT
A new study has just stated that the seven planets that orbit Trappist-1 are mostly rocky, and some potentially contain more liquid water than our planet.
Using data obtained by the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope and several of the instruments of the European Southern Observatory in Chile, the scientists modeled the densities of the seven worlds.
What they found could mean “good news” for extraterrestrial life. “All TRAPPIST-1 planets are very similar to Earth, have a solid core and are surrounded by an atmosphere,” Simon Grimm, an exoplanetary scientist at the University of Bern in Switzerland, told Space.com.
They used a method called TTV (Transit Time Variations), which allows astronomers to determine the mass of the planets in relation to the stellar masses. Combined with the radii measured when the planet transits its star, the technique accurately reveals the densities of each world.
The results revealed densities of TRAPPIST-1 worlds ranging from 0.6 to 1.0 times the density of the Earth. The seven worlds are rich in water, with levels that reach up to 5% of the total mass.
In comparison, only about 0.02% of the Earth’s mass is contained in water.
In addition to finding the composition of the exoplanets, the researchers also found that one of the worlds could boast some familiar characteristics.
“TRAPPIST-1e is the exoplanet closest to Earth in terms of mass, radius and energy received from its star,” said Grimm.