Thursday, 25 January 2018

More Trappist-1 Speculations, But Water and a Source of Heat Can’t Create Life

An artist’s impression of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system. Image courtesy of ESO/N. Bartmann/, CC BY 4.0.

Joel Kontinen

Discovered last year, Trappist-1 is a cool dwarf star some 39 light years from us. Its seven planets are most probably bombarded with intense solar radiation and they are very likely tidally locked like Mercury in our solar system, with the same side always facing its sun.

This has not put an end to naturalistic speculations on whether at least some of the planets might be habitable.

The Guardian reports that Dr Amy Barr of the Planetary Science Institute and colleagues “built mathematical models of the seven planets and their interiors, and found that six of the seven worlds probably have water, as liquid or ice, with a global ocean possible on one. The team then modeled the planets’ orbits to determine a likely surface temperature on the worlds.”

They believe that the planets’ eccentric orbits stretch and squeeze them, creating heat and a climate that could (in theory) sustain life.

However, dwarf stars tend to be unstable and bombard their planets with intense solar flares, making them unsuitable for life.


Yuhas, Alan. 2018. Two planets in unusual star system are very likely habitable, scientists say.The Guardian (23 January).