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Could Life Survive In The TRAPPIST-1 System?

Discussion in 'Space Exploration and the Cosmos' started by Num7, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. Num7

    Num7 Administrator

    Dec 15, 2005
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    To hell with our Solar System, with its measly four rocky planets. TRAPPIST-1 40 light-years away has seven, at least three of which might be habitable. Understandably, the discovery of these planets made headline news this past week.

    But what might life be like in this system? Well, it might be quite different to here, if it's able to survive the star's intense bursts of radiation. So far, we know very little about the system other than the type of star (an ultra cool red dwarf) and the mass, radius, and orbits of most of the planets. It's enough to make some educated guesses, though.

    If there is life there, the views from the surface of the planets might be rather glorious. Above the same point on each planet – as all are tidally locked – the star would appear a salmon-pink color. But as the planets orbit so close to each other, they would also sweep through each other’s skies, sometimes appearing as large as the Moon does in Earth’s sky.

    From our planet, we can make out craters, mountains, and more on the surface of the Moon with our naked eyes alone, but we need to send spacecraft on multi-year missions to get a close-up view of other worlds in our Solar System. If an advanced civilization is lucky enough to live on one of the TRAPPIST-1 planets, then they could study their other worlds – some of which might also be habitable – from their own backyards.


    Three of the planets in the system – TRAPPIST-1e, f, and g – may have the necessary conditions for water. They’re located in the habitable zone of the star, where temperatures are just right for liquid water, and thus maybe life.

    The major unknown at the moment is what sort of atmospheres these planets have to protect against UV radiation from their star. TRAPPIST-1, being 200 times dimmer and 10 times smaller than our Sun, is a type of star that unleashes powerful flares of energy. The planets in the system orbit extremely closely, each no more than a few days, so they are susceptible to these bursts of energy.

    “The main barrier to life in a system like this compared to Earth is potentially UV radiation,” Jack O'Malley-James from the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University in New York told IFLScience. “It becomes potentially a limiting factor for what life can and can’t do on the surface of the planet.”

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    Could Life Survive In The TRAPPIST-1 System?
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  3. Khaos

    Khaos where the wild things are

    Jan 23, 2012
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    Life can exist and survive in very harsh environments. Check this out:

    Weird Life Found Trapped in Giant Underground Crystals

    Have scientists ever considered the possibility that what we need to survive, and what can kill us, is the opposite for life outside our planet? Like that movie... Signs. About an alien invasion. And the plot twist is....
    the aliens die by exposure to water

    So while water is key to life here on Earth and UV radiation can kill life here on Earth, where is the possibility that water could kill elsewhere and UV radiation is a key to life elsewhere?

    Besides this article talks about the surface of the planet, but it doesn't speak about the underground part. I think if there is any life, on a planet like Mars. Its underground.
    Destination Unknown likes this.

  4. Harte

    Harte Senior Member

    Mar 24, 2005
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    There are more of these Red Dwarf suns in our galaxy than any other type. Because of this, the idea of life on planets around these suns has been considered before.
    Many such systems will have their planets tidally locked due to the system's age. Also, they will likely have no gas giant planets in the system which means greater chances of comet and asteroid impacts which would cause real problems for life on these planets.
    But if life escaped that, then it would have to deal with constant radiation on one side and ridiculously low temperatures on the other.

    For this reason, researchers think that if life exists there, it would probably be adapted to live near the edge of the shadow of the planet, in a sort of moderate zone between the blazing heat and horrendous cold.

    Destination Unknown and Num7 like this.

  5. Destination Unknown

    Destination Unknown Junior Member

    Jan 17, 2017
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    Watched this a few weeks back on Science channel. They are saying that there could be life on Pluto underneath all the ice. Pluto is generating heat underneath the ice and they think that there could be a possibility for life underneath the ice. Is pretty interesting to me I don't know about others. I love these types of discoveries. Is a long video but I enjoy them some others may as well.
  6. QuantumTheoryisBest

    QuantumTheoryisBest Junior Member

    Mar 29, 2017
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    Num 7 is super right, to hell with our solar system! Well habitat and explore 100 light years (Light years being a measure of length not time) away from us just to live somewhere safer!