Connect with us

Space

Planets in the TRAPPIST-1 System May Be Closer to Earth Than We Thought

Planets in the TRAPPIST-1 System May Be Closer to Earth Than We Thought 86

The TRAPPIST-1 system is thought to be one of our best opportunities to find habitable planets beyond our solar system. Now, four new studies have expanded our knowledge of its composition.

Questions and Answers

The TRAPPIST-1 system has fascinated astronomers and the general public alike since it was revealed by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope in February 2017. Now, a series of four studies from the University of Birmingham, published in in Nature Astronomy and Astronomy and Astrophysics has offered up new insight into conditions on the planets.

The first study sought to refine our understanding of how the star at the center of the system behaves, while the second pursued more precise measurements of each planet’s radius. The third looked at the planets’ masses, and the fourth observed their atmospheres.

The research seems to suggest that the seven planets that comprise the TRAPPIST-1 system are similar to the rocky worlds on our solar system, in various ways. For instance, five of the planets don’t possess an atmosphere consisting of hydrogen and helium, like that of Neptune or Uranus.

The study indicates that all seven planets are mostly made of rock. In addition, up to five percent of their mass is said to be in water – which is a very significant amount, given that just 0.02 percent of the Earth’s mass is tied up in its oceans.

To answer the question of what form the water on TRAPPIST-1 planets takes, we need to know more about the system’s star. It all depends on how much heat they receive from it.

Each planet is considered temperate, which means that under the right geological and atmospheric conditions, they could potentially support liquid water. Research like these four new studies will hopefully allow us to determine whether or not the planets are habitable.

Having a better idea of each planet’s radius and mass, as well as new information about the star itself, should give scientists a greater understanding of each planet’s density. This, in turn, should offer up greater understanding of their internal composition.

The density of a planet doesn’t have any direct impact on whether or not it’s habitable. However, it does contribute to a broader comprehension of the planet’s make-up that serves as crucial foundational knowledge for questions of that kind.

TRAPPIST Life

When planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system are referred to as Earth-like, the comparison is made in broad terms – even though they’re rocky as opposed to gaseous, and relatively temperate, they’re still a far cry from our own planet.

Still, the fact that they’re somewhat similar gives us a foundation for further research. These planets are incredibly far away, which can make it very difficult to study them. At present, the Hubble Space Telescope is integral to this kind of work, but the James Webb Telescope will provide even greater capacity for observation when it’s ready to be employed.

One reason that scientists have to believe that the TRAPPIST-1 system may play host to life is the concept of “panspermia”. This refers to the process of planets trading material like rocks and dirt due to huge impacts on their respective surfaces. This can foster a trade in complex organic molecules that might lead to living organisms. It’s been theorized that life on Earth may have actually travelled here from Mars.

Based on the masses of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, and their relatively short distance from one another, it’s thought that panspermia might be as much as 10,000 times more likely to take place there than in our solar system.

While some studies have suggested that the likelihood of life being found on a TRAPPIST-1 planet is quite good, there are significant obstacles that might prevent these worlds from being habitable. The planets that are within the system’s habitable zone are still subject to a constant bombardment of radiation that could effectively destroy their atmospheres and prevent life from thriving.

It’s difficult to make a definitive statement either way on this kind of scenario based on what we currently know. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to research all aspects of the TRAPPIST-1 system in order to expand our understanding.

Source link

Space

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 99
Photo: (Caltech / R. Hurt (IPAC))

To us, the Sun alone seems perfectly normal, but our solar system is actually a strange exception.

Most stars in the Milky Way galaxy have at least one companion star. In a system 1,800 light-years away, astronomers have finally confirmed the existence of a gas giant planet orbiting stars in a triple star system.

Called KOI-5, the system is located in the constellation Cygnus, and the exoplanet was confirmed ten years after it was first detected by the Kepler space telescope.

In fact, the planet – now known as KOI-5Ab – was discovered by Kepler when it began operations back in 2009.

“KOI-5Ab was dropped because it was difficult and we had thousands of other candidates,” astronomer David Siardi of NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute said.

“There were lighter dives than the KOI-5Ab, and every day we learned something new from Kepler, so the KOI-5 was almost forgotten.”

Exoplanet hunters tend to avoid the complexities of multi-star systems; of the more than 4,300 exoplanets confirmed to date, less than 10 percent are multi-star systems, although such systems dominate the galaxy. As a result, little is known about the properties of exoplanets in multi-star systems compared to those orbiting a lone star.

After Kepler’s discovery, Chardy and other astronomers used ground-based telescopes such as the Palomar Observatory, Keck Observatory, and the Gemini North Telescope to study the system. By 2014, they had identified two companion stars, KOI-5B and KOI-5C.

Scientists were able to establish that the planet KOI-5Ab, is a gas giant that is about half the mass of Saturn and 7 times the size of Earth, and is in a very close five-day orbit around KOI-5A. KOI-5A and KOI-5B, both of roughly the same mass as the Sun, form a relatively close binary system with an orbital period of about 30 years.

KOI-5Ab, the curious planet that orbits in a system of three suns 100

A third star, KOI-5C, orbits the binary system at a much greater distance, with a period of about 400 years – slightly longer than Pluto’s 248-year orbit.

“By studying this system in more detail, perhaps we can understand how planets are created in the universe.”

The discovery was announced at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Continue Reading

Space

Why the universe does not fit into science

Why the universe does not fit into science 101
Photo: YouTube

Science can be compared to an artist painting what he has never seen, or to a writer describing other people’s travels: objects that he has never seen, places where he has never been. Sometimes such scientific “arts” turn out to be beautiful and interesting, but most of them will forever remain only theories, because they are beyond human capabilities.

In fact, science has the right only to speculate: how our universe appeared, how old it is, how many stars and other objects it contains.

Universe model

Why the universe does not fit into science 102

How many stars are there in the sky?

With an unarmed eye, a person can see about nine thousand stars in the sky in one cloudless and moonless night. And armed with binoculars or a telescope, much more – up to several million. However, this is much less than their true number in the universe. Indeed, only in our one galaxy (the Milky Way) there are about 400 billion stars. The exact amount, of course, is not known to science. And the visible universe contains about 170 billion galaxies.

It is worth clarifying that scientists can see the universe 46 billion light years deep in all directions. And the visible (observable) universe includes the space accessible to our eyes from the moment of the Big Explosion. In other words, only this (accessible to human perception) space science refers to our universe. Science does not consider everything that follows.

It is believed that there are supposedly a ceptillion (10 to 24 degrees) stars in our universe. These are theoretical calculations based on the approximate size and age of the universe. The origin of the universe is explained by the Big Bang theory. This is why the universe is constantly expanding and the more time passes, the more complex the universe and its components become.

Why the universe does not fit into science 103

It is not entirely correct to consider and perceive this scientific theory “head-on”. Scientists always claim that that explosion was not exactly an explosion, and the point that exploded was not the only one. After all, it was everywhere, because space did not exist then. And in general – everything happened quite differently from what is described in the Big Bang theory, but all other descriptions of the origin of the universe are even more incredible and inaccurate.

Separate but interconnected

That which is beyond the reach of human perception is usually discarded by science, or recognized as non-existent. Recognizing one thing, science does not want to recognize the existence of the other, although everything in our world is interconnected and is not able to exist separately – by itself.

Each object of the universe is a part of it much more than an independent, separate object.

Any person, like any material object of our world, consists of components: organs, cells, molecules, atoms. And each of its constituent parts can represent the whole world. Separate, and at the same time connected with all the others.

However, science, as a rule, perceives all the components of the universe – people, animals, plants, objects, the Earth, the Sun, other planets and stars – as separate subjects, thereby limiting itself.

Why the universe does not fit into science 104

Even what is considered the visible universe, one of the atoms of which could be called our solar system, is not subject to the boundaries of human perception. But perhaps the atom is an exaggeration, and our solar system is not even an atom, but one of its elements!

How, being so far from the truth, can one reason about something with the degree of probability with which science tries to reason about the origin of the universe?

Continue Reading

Space

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars

An unexplained wobble shifts the poles of Mars 105

The red planet sways from side to side like a whirligig when it loses speed. The new study allowed scientists to notice that the poles of Mars deviate slightly from the axis of rotation of the planet. On average, they move 10 cm from the center with a period of 200 days.

Such changes are called the Chandler Oscillations  – after the American astronomer Seth Chandler, who discovered them in 1891. Previously, they were only seen on Earth. It is known that the displacement of the poles of rotation of our planet occurs with a period of 433 days, while the amplitude reaches 15 meters. There is no exact answer why this is happening. It is believed that the fluctuations are influenced by processes in the ocean and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Chandler’s wobbles on Mars are equally perplexing. The authors of the study discovered them by comparing data from 18 years of studying the planet. The information was obtained thanks to three spacecraft that orbit the Red Planet: Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor. 

Since Mars has no oceans, it is likely that the Red Planet’s wobbly rotation is due to changes in atmospheric pressure. This is the first explanation that researchers have shared. In the future, there should be new details about the fluctuations that have so interested the scientific community.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

DO NOT MISS

Trending