Monday, May 2, 2016

Three More Exoplanets

By my buddy, Paul Gilster, author of the fantastic 'Centauri Dreams: Imagining and Planning Interstellar Exploration':

"About forty light years from Earth in the constellation Aquarius is the star designated 2MASS J23062928-0502285, which as of today qualifies as perhaps the most interesting ultracool dwarf we’ve yet found. What we learn in a new paper in Nature is that the star, also known as TRAPPIST-1 after the European Southern Observatory’s TRAPPIST telescope at La Silla, is orbited by three planets that are roughly the size of the Earth. We may have a world of astrobiological interest — and conceivably several — orbiting this tiny, faint star."

"But bear in mind that at least the inner two planets are probably tidally locked, with one side perpetually facing the star, the other turned away from it. Hence there may be regions near the terminator that receive daylight but maintain relatively cool temperatures. Given that the third planet may turn out to be entirely within the habitable zone, we have a fascinating test case for upcoming attempts to characterize the atmospheres of each of these Earth-sized worlds."

You can read more here.

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