Nearby star has 7 "Earthlike" planets


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/22/nearby-star-has-7-earthlike.html


#2

I hope in the spirit of TRAPPIST’s name sakes, they give these proper names:

Orval, Chimay, Achel, Westmalle, etc. Which are all excellent names for planets in their own right.


#3

I had no idea that the street artist down my block worked for NASA.


#4

So is this the system where Firefly takes place in?

Just kidding, I expect it was just the Droyne screwing around with planets again.


#5

Curious how much “closer” the James Webb telescope will get us to these and similar planets. Very cool!


#6

Check out my kickstarter project, where we are funding a generation ship to send Kim Stanley Robinson to explore this new system.


#7

I’d love to go, but I’m busy overthrowing my TGOP government.


#8

Oh man 7 planets made of beer and cheese!!!


#9

“Terrestrial” doesn’t really mean “Earthlike”, though, unless you regard a very hot carbon dioxide atmosphere (Venus) as being “Earthlike”. As I understand it it means being made of rock and metal and big enough to become spherical under gravity and to clear out its orbit enough not to be subject to continuous meteorite bombardment. It doesn’t imply (as the picture does) rock erosion by liquid flow.

It is interesting (well, it interests me) how we started off with a very simplistic view of the universe (stars, planets, sun, moon, Earth) and then as we learn more the categorisation gets more and more inadequate. It resembles the way that DNA analysis has transformed biology. The idea of “Earthlike” planets is predicated on there being something special about our planet. But if it’s just somewhere on a continuum between cometary lumps of ice and gravel, and gas giants, what should the classification be? We don’t have enough planets yet to be sure.


#10

FWIW, it’s pretty common practice to speculate on what these planets might be like for artist’s renderings, and those renderings adhere to what we understand these planets could be like. There’s no evidence of running liquid, but there’s also nothing that removes such a possibility.

The article points out that the worlds are likely to be tidally locked, and so won’t be great for life. They’re also close enough to their star that the star’s radiation is likely having some gnarly effects on the atmospheres. We’re finding a spate of planets around small, reddish stars, because stars like our own are bright enough that finding the luminosity dip that reveals a planet of our size is tough.

But it is exciting!


#11

New horizons present themselves!

And 39 light years isn’t too far away.


#12

Be right back to help… but first I’m heading to TRAPPIST-1


#13

OK, but you’d better not let me down.


#14

NASA should name them after Trump family members and then ask for a budget increase.


#15

Sweet idea.


#16

And since there are seven Trappist breweries in Belgium ( Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle), as well as seven planets in this system, it just makes sense.


#17

La Trappe is Dutch, though - one of two Trappist breweries in the Netherlands. iirc there are 3 more, one each in Austria, Italy and the US.


#18

Ah, you’re right enough. They’d better find some gas giants in the system as well, to make it up to 12


#19

When the journalists are through with them, these planets will have dolphins and seagulls. Rocky planets are probably very common - the big news is detecting them.


#20

2017: NASA scientists publicly announce intent to explore TRAPPIST-1 system.
2095: Earth receives mysterious interstellar broadcast reading “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.”