Home » News & Blogs » TRAPPIST-1: Planets Likely Rich in Volatiles
Bookmark and Share
Centauri Dreams

TRAPPIST-1: Planets Likely Rich in Volatiles

7 Feb 2018, 16:03 UTC
TRAPPIST-1: Planets Likely Rich in Volatiles
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Yesterday we saw that, by pushing the Hubble telescope to its limits, we could make a call about three of the TRAPPIST-1 planets — d, e and f — and one possibility for their respective atmospheres. The Hubble data rule out puffy atmospheres rich in hydrogen for these three (TRAPPIST-1 g needs more work before a definitive call can be made there).
This is a useful finding, for hydrogen is a greenhouse gas that can heat planets close to their star beyond our usual norms for habitability. Set out deeper in a stellar system, we can think of Neptune, a gaseous world far different from the kind of rocky, terrestrial-class planets most likely to produce surface water. So on balance, the Hubble work, while not telling us anything more about potential atmospheres in this system, does rule out the Neptune scenario. That leaves open the question of whether future instruments will find more compact atmospheres.
The James Webb Space Telescope should be able to probe these worlds, perhaps revealing heavier gases like methane, carbon dioxide, water and oxygen. Meanwhile, we have another new paper to look at, from lead author Simon Grimm and colleagues, taking another angle on the ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day