Before the religions lead the life on Earth to annihilation, scientists have found a planet that may support life. The great news is that unlike the previously found gas giants, the newly discovered planet is similar to our Earth. The bad news however is that this in a remote solar system, 40 light years away from us. For those not in the know, light year means the amount of distance traveled by a ray of light in a year. Mind you, the speed of light is about 299,792,458 meters per second.
Scientists have observed these planets orbit a relatively dim star knows as TRAPPIST-1. The star is named after a Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) developed by Belgium, and situated in Chile. Two of these planets are too close to the star to support life. Additionally, they are tidally locked to host star, which means that one side of each planet is facing the dwarf star all the time. Thankfully, the outermost planet falls in that unique solar system’s goldilocks (habitable) zone. To understand how the position of the goldilocks zone changes according to the brightness of a star, check out the image below:
According to the data, TRAPPIST-1 is much cooler and redder than the Sun and is slightly bigger than Jupitor. barely larger than Jupiter. Such stars are both very common in the Milky Way and very long-lived, but this is the first time that planets have been found around one of them.
In coming months, astronomers will search for signs of life by studying the effect that the atmosphere of a transiting planet has on the light reaching Earth. A dim star system is ideal for such studies. It is difficult to take readings against bright starlight. Even if it seems to harbour life, humanity will first have to figure out a mode of transport to travel 40 light years. For starters, building a huge interstellar ark as shown in the movie Pandorum would not be a bad idea.