Researchers have for the first time discovered 3 potentially habitable worlds that resemble the earth orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf. This is according to a research that was published in the journal Nature.
The name of the ultra-cool dwarf is TRAPPIST-1 and it is some star that scientists say can be a hub for planets. Its temperature and mass is half that of the sun. The naked eyes cannot see it due to its dimness. Neither can amateur telescopes from Earth see it.
The discovery of Kepler-452b was announced by NASA on the 23rd of July in 2015. This has been termed as a bigger, older cousin to the earth. The scientists are yet to find out whether there are oceans or seas on it.
But these tiny stars, along with brown dwarfs, are long-lived, common in the Milky Way and represent 25-50% of stellar objects in the galaxy, said study researcher Julien de Wit, a postdoctoral associate with MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
Scientists used to overlook them until Michael Gillon took the risk of studying space surrounding the dwarfs.
Scientists under the leadership of Gillon used a kind of telescope referred to as TRAPPIST to conduct their studies. TRAPPIST stands for transiting planets and planetesimals small telescope.
“It’s like standing in front of a lamp and throwing a flea across it,” said professor Adam Burgasser of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Science at the University of California San Diego. “It was only a 1% dip in light, but the specific pattern was a good sign of orbiting planets.”
Their size is close to that of the Earth and they fall in the habitable zone because they get about 4 times the radiation from the sun than we do.
These results are just the starting point for a study scheduled to take several years. Currently, studies are being done to find out whether there are water or methane molecules on the planets.