Advancing the Search for Life to Trappist-1 Planets


Humanity continues to make advances in search of extra-terrestrial life. The Trappist-1 star showed promise as findings indicated that seven planets were orbiting the red star. It’s the largest number registered since investigations into exoplanetary system began. On the other hand, the planets orbiting the star were of equivalent size with planet Earth. As a result, it made them a perfect focus for the investigation towards potential habitability. Cayman Unterborn and his colleagues from ASU focused their efforts on the research around the seven planets. Much went to identify the composition of the seven with interests to water. Nature Astronomy published the results and findings of their work.

Information revealed by their work shows that the planets are curiously light. The planet’s composition is much lighter as compared to Earth’s rock. Suggestions indicate that the component may consist of gases. However, as geoscientist Unterborn explains, the size of the planet is too small to hold enough gas necessary to make up for density deficits. Additionally, if they were to contain enough gases, they would appear much puffier than they do now. As a result, they concluded that the low-density component was something else available in abundance. They predicted that it was water.

The team of scientists set out to determine the composition of the seven Earth-sized planets. They adopted software that enabled them to combine all known information about the Trappist-1 system. Using the data collected from a dataset called Hypatia Catalog, they found out that the inner planets were relatively dry. When compared to planet Earth, they found that the planets closer to Trappist-1 had less than 15 percent water by mass. The exterior planets had 50 percent water by mass. When equated to Earth’s 0.02 percent water by mass, the outer planets contained hundreds of Earth oceans. However, the data is under continuous refinement and should, therefore, be taken as estimates.

While water is a vital component to supporting life, the content in Trappist-1 is way too much to support life. Earth, as we know it, requires water to sustain life. However, a planet with entirely no surface above water lacks the proper geochemical constitution and elemental cycles necessary for survival. As a result, the Trappist-1 planets constituent makes them highly unlikely to support any form of life. While we endeavor to find life in outer space, Trappist-1 planets give us a better understanding of the kind of stars and planets to look for, and their modes of formation.


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