TRAPPIST 1

Trappist 1 – Perhaps science has found our future home or a world already populated by aliens. Look up in the night sky towards the Aquarius constellation, where there’s an ultra-cool dwarf nearly 40 light years away. Named Trappist 1–for the TRAnsiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope in Chile–astronomers spotted regular dimming, a signal when planets transit the bright face of a distant sun. OK, a star, but what about planets? Further inspection revealed 7 planets total, 6 of which are Earth sized, 3 of which are in the life supporting habitable zone. For the first time, multiple planets around the same star, all in one spot. Amazing, since most of the exoplanets discovered to date have been large gas giants too near the host sun. But it’s much cooler, less than half the sun’s heat and much smaller, one-twelfth the mass as compared to our own sun. What does all this mean? Potentially, a habitable world. Science hasn’t yet verified signs of life such as oxygen and methane. However that might come to be, once the James Webb Space Telescope is launched, in 2018. It will observe distant events, such as forming stars/ planets, and be capable of capturing direct images of exoplanets. Such as those orbiting Trappist 1? Let’s hope so.