TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets, Under The Focus Again As New Climate Models Shed More Light On Them


Our host star is not unique, and scientists have even found the clone of our Sun in a distant part of the galaxy. However, other stars are not at all like our Sun. TRAPPIST-1, for example, is one of them. It is younger, smaller, and cooler, but still, seven planets orbit around TRAPPIST-1. And now, once again, these TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets are under the focus as new climate models shed more light on them, especially on their atmosphere.

“We are modeling unfamiliar atmospheres, not just assuming that the things we see in the solar system will look the same way around another star. We conducted this research to show what these different types of atmospheres could look like,” said Andrew Lincowski from the University of Washington, and the new study’s leading author.

TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets are more or less like Earth, regarding size, while only three of them, dubbed as TRAPPIST-1 E, F, and G, are within the habitable zone of the system.

TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets Are “A Gold Mine” For Scientists

“This is a whole sequence of planets that can give us insight into the evolution of planets, in particular around a star that’s very different from ours, with different light coming off of it. It’s just a gold mine,” Andrew Lincowski said. The team “tried to do the most rigorous physical modeling that we could regarding radiation and chemistry — trying to get the physics and chemistry as right as possible,” he added.

According to the new climate models, all TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets might be like Venus with any of the water oceans they might have had once evaporated by their host star’s extremely hot, bright early stellar phase. Only TRAPPIST-1 E exoplanet might still present an ocean on its surface, a companion study to this one revealed.

“This may be possible if these planets had more water initially than Earth, Venus or Mars. If planet TRAPPIST-1 e did not lose all of its water during this phase, today it could be a water world, completely covered by a global ocean. In this case, it could have a climate similar to Earth,” Linkowski said.


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