7 plan­ets that may host alien life

Seven Earth-like plan­ets have been found or­bit­ing an ‘ul­tra-cool’ star.

HWM (Singapore) - - Contents - by Alvin Soon

Re­searchers have dis­cov­ered a unique so­lar sys­tem 40 lightyears away from our own. Seven rocky, Earth-sized plan­ets have been found or­bit­ing a small, ul­tra-cool star named TRAP­PIST-1 (‘ul­tra-cool’ means that it’s a lowradi­a­tion dwarf star, not that it’s rad­i­cally chic — although in this case, it kind of is).

All of the plan­ets have po­ten­tial for wa­ter on their sur­face; three of them or­bit within the star’s hab­it­able zone. As wa­ter is a vi­tal el­e­ment for life on Earth, there’s a non-zero chance that th­ese plan­ets could also con­tain life.

The TRAP­PIST-1 so­lar sys­tem is re­mark­able in a few other ways: It is the most num­ber of Earth-sized plan­ets that have been found in the hab­it­able zone of a sin­gle star. Th­ese plan­ets are closer to each other than plan­ets in our own so­lar sys­tem, at their clos­est, the plan­ets TRAP­PIST-1f and TRAP­PIST-1g are only three times the dis­tance be­tween our Earth and its moon. The in­ner six plan­ets or­bit some­what in sync as well, a phe­nom­e­non called or­bital res­o­nance.

As­tronomers will con­tinue study­ing the TRAP­PIST-1 so­lar sys­tem for signs of wa­ter on the plan­ets’ sur­faces.

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