Is there anybody out there? Possibly, scientists have been given a real target to finally find out: a fascinating system of seven Earth-size planets discovered around a cool dwarf star called Trappist-1.
Located some 39 light years from Earth, three of their planets are ideally placed to house oceans of liquid water, a key ingredient for life as it’s known on Earth, which at the same time means that the Milky Way can probably host billions of terrestrial-type worlds.
The Coolest Nickname Ever for a Space System
Champagne showers to the astronomer Michaël Gillon of the University of Liege in Belgium plus 30 other astronomers from more than eight different countries who participated in the verification of observations, working with seven main telescopes, including the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, which was focused for 20 days without interruption.
Hence its fantastic moniker, Trappist, which is not only an acronym in English that means Little Telescope for the transition of planets and planetesimals but also represents a wink to the beers elaborated in Belgium following a centennial method of the Trappist Monks.
How Long Would It Take To Travel a Light Year?
So that you have an idea of how close are we from this new system with Earth-size planets, let me explain you how long would it take to travel a light year. By the way, when doing the maths, I know you would likely get in shock of how far it does sound. However, keep in mind that is the reason why NASA is working on futuristic transport naves like the hyperloop.
One light year: simple, If you were just ripped off before the dinosaurs appeared then you would be almost at the goal.
A light-year is a distance that light travels in a year, used as a pattern for interstellar distances. They are approximately 9.5 billion kilometers. If you walk at a moderate pace of one mile every twenty minutes, it will take around 225 million years to complete the trip —Not including interruptions to eat or go to the toilet!
If Earth-size planets are So Away, Why are they Still Outstanding?
According to the researchers, they expect to be able to know much more about these Earth-size planets In a few years so that they may discover if there is life within a decade approximately —So much less than a light year count trip.
On the other hand, Is the first system that has seven Earth-size planets, as well as the small size of its star, a particularity that will simplify the study of the climate and atmosphere of those worlds.
Now with the firsts planets with the appropriate climatic conditions to let life bloom because of its similarity to our, we know scientists might have been looking in the wrong place, and they can redirect their investigations.
What We Were Missing Out On
In recent years, scientists have accumulated evidence that Earth-size planets are common in the galaxy, but the work of Gillon and his colleagues indicates that they are even more abundant than previously thought.
It is estimated that, for every planet that is detected when it transits in front of its star, there is a multitude of other similar bodies, between 20 and 100 times more. They remain unobservable because, from the terrestrial perspective, they do not cross in front of the star.