Ultracool Dwarf and the Seven Planets: The Discovery of Earth-Like Worlds

ESOcast 96 explores the discovery of Earth-like, potentially habitable worlds orbiting a nearby star known as TRAPPIST-1. Just 40 light-years away, the star’s diminutive size and dim light output mean it is known as an ultracool dwarf.

Astronomers made the incredibly intricate measurements required to find and study the planets — including observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope — to each world’s potential to support life as we know it. Excitingly, three of the planets in the system orbit in the habitable zone around TRAPPIST-1.

The three planets in the habitable zone and could harbor oceans of water on their surfaces, increasing the possibility that the star system could play host to life. This system has both the largest number of Earth-sized planets yet found and the largest number of worlds that could support liquid water on their surfaces. This ESOcasts describes the findings and shows a little of what they might mean.

The artist’s impressions in this video are based on the known physical parameters for the planets and stars seen, and uses a vast database of objects in the Universe.

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