The TRAPPIST-1 star system continues to amuse scientists with its seven near earth sized temperate terrestrial planets. A new research has revealed that the TRAPPIST-1 planets are more habitable than it was previously thought. The latest research is an amalgamation of four separate studies as they looked for the habitability of those TRAPPIST-1 planets. For the study, the scientists looked at the data collected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescopes.
They got many more information about the star and the planets that orbit around it. First, the scientists tried to get as many information as possible about the TRAPPIST-1 star present at the center of the planets. Then they tried to improve the measurements of the radii and masses of the near-Earth sized planets that revolve around the star. At last, the research team performed reconnaissance observations of the seven planets’ atmospheres.
All the four studies were guided by Dr. Amaury Triaud, an astronomer at the University of Birmingham. Triaud said, “After discovering this incredible planetary system our team was extremely eager to know more about TRAPPIST-1.” The results of their one-year-long study of the TRAPPIST-1 system are revealed in the form of four separate papers. “Thanks to our efforts the TRAPPIST-1 planets are becoming the best-studied worlds outside the Solar system,” stated Triaud. From the study, it has been confirmed that all the seven planets are mostly rocky and not gaseous.
The researchers also found that up to 5% of planets’ mass is water. That means the water content of the TRAPPIST-1 planets is way greater than the water content of Earth which is just 0.02 percent of our planet’s mass. According to the study, water may be present in different forms in those temperate planets depending upon the amount of heat and radiation they receive from their parent star.
The scientists also found out that, out of those seven planets, five planets do not have atmosphere made up of hydrogen and Helium as found in Uranus or Neptune. The planets where no hydrogen-dominated atmospheres were found were TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, and f. Scientists are still suspicious about the atmosphere of TRAPPIST-1g. The study also revealed that TRAPPIST-1d is the lightest of the planets, nearly 30 percent the mass of Earth. According to the scientists, TRAPPIST-1e, the fourth from the star, looks more like our Earth and might be a great candidate for supporting life. But, more study needs to be done on that planet. Previously, scientists had discovered from the research that out of those seven TRAPPIST-1 planets three planets (e,f,g) are revolving in the habitable zone of the star. Now, the latest study has got more precise measurements of the masses and radii of those planets and who knows, in future, we might get strong evidence of possibility of life on some of those planets.