By Christopher and Jamie, Year 8
11 months ago, in May 2016 in Chile, the exoplanet system, TRAPPIST-1, was discovered by the TRAPPIST telescope. They found three planets with the TRAPPIST and then the Spitzer telescope confirmed two of them. Eventually, they found five additional planets. However, three of the planets in this new solar system are presumed to be in a habitable zone of the solar system and may even contain liquid water, meaning there could be a potential chance of life! This is an incredibly amazing, new astronomical breakthrough for the scientific community.
On the other hand, with every discovery comes with its own set of boundaries and problems. The main restriction is the vast distance between planet Earth and these illusive planets. 40 lightyears (235 trillion miles) worth of deadly vacuum between us and it.
Osama, a Year 9 science Subject Specialist, believes that we shall “never be able to achieve this type of technological advancement” and that “we will never get there. Therefore, its significance is extremely minute”.
In contrast, Miss Cockram, the Director of Learning in Compass School, believes that this discovery is “quite exciting as there may be types of life that we haven’t thought of before”. Furthermore when asked about the effect this discovery will have on us she said “it may confuse our motives. The high costs of any possible projects for deep space exploration – we should focus that money on the real problems on Earth like famine”.
The planets in the TRAPPIS-1 solar system orbit very closely to a red dwarf star, a colder star that is gradually dying and collapsing on itself. Unlike Earth, these planets do not rotate and are in a tidal lock. Due to the close distance from their home star, the side of their planet that is facing their star is extremely hot whereas the other side facing away from the red dwarf is extremely cold, meaning we would have to live in the very middle to not boil or freeze. Sounds like a great place to live!
Although these planets are so far away that it seems theoretically and practically impossible to reach in our lifetime, it still has given us much more insight into the possibilities of new Earth-like celestial bodies, the thrilling idea of life on other planets and the hope of a new beginning.