On the 2nd of April, Belgian astronomers found 3 Earth-like planets that orbit an ultra-cool dwarf star. These planets were spotted through the “Trappist” (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope). The viewing occurred from Chile’s La Silla Observatory in the Atacama desert.
Situated about 40 light years away, these new planets orbit a cool star, observing temperatures that could sustain running water on the surfaces; hence life on these planets.
The said planets orbit the dwarf at a distance of about 3%,
Michael Gillon, who led the research at the University of Liege, said that ‘these were the first Earth-sized planets with temperate climates found outside our solar system which they can study in detail.’
According to studies, the three planets are said to be tidally locked to their star, which means that one-half of these planets would permanently experience day while the other half would stay covered in darkness.
A year on the closest planet passes as quickly as 1.5 Earth days, a little longer (2.4 Earth days) on the second closets and about 4.5 to 73 Earth days on the farthest.
Temperatures at the hottest parts are gauged to be around 100 degrees Celsius on the planet closest to the star, 70 degrees Celsius on the second and 30 degrees Celsius on the external one.
Scientists and astronomers have already begun to chart out plans to further study these planets orbiting the star, 2MASS J23062928-0502285.
Commonly also known as Trappist-1, the three planets around it will be considered for their atmospheric composition, surface structure, and components as well as the composition of water to understand if they could indeed support life as Earth does for us.
Due to it being rather faint, the Trappist-1 is not visible to the naked eye and in fact cannot even be viewed with an amateur telescope regardless of it being a large one.
Two new observatories ‘European Extremely Large Telescope’ and the ‘James Webb Space Telescope’, that will operate out of the Atacama desert will serve for studies conducted on these three new planets. Both observatories are under construction with the second scheduled to make its debut in 2018.