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Tim Kendall's Extreme Astrophysics

Seven temperate rocky planets orbiting the red dwarf TRAPPIST-1

23 Feb 2017, 10:08 UTC
Seven temperate rocky planets orbiting the red dwarf TRAPPIST-1
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The TRAPPIST-1 star, an ultracool red dwarf located just over 13 parsecs from the Sun, has seven Earth-size planets orbiting it. This artist’s concept appeared on the cover of the journal Nature on Feb. 23, 2017. It shows the expected physical state of water at the probable temperature of each planet: (courtesy: NASA)

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.The new results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated. Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in ...

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