So, let’s talk about Trappist1!

Artistic impression of TRAPPIST-1f NASA/JPL-Caltech

Yesterday, Nasa announced that seven earth sized planets have been discovered orbiting a dwarf star called Trappist1, which is 40 Light Years away from Earth. Obviously, it’s unprecedented that so many planets (roughly the size of Earth) have been discovered in the same system, and three of those appear to orbit within the so-called “habitable-zone” of Trappist-1.

But, what’s more intriguing is just how closely these worlds orbit their host star. Each orbit less than 1 AU from each other, or a little over the distance from the Earth and the Moon. This means that, like the illustration above, if you were to stand on any of the worlds within the habitable-zone, you’d see the other worlds as clearly as we see our own moon, if not clearer.

That’s pretty damn cool, and as a science fiction writer, it’s definitely a feast for my own imagination. There are so many questions about this system, like how does being so close to each other affect their surfaces, is there life, is there water?

Honestly, though, I think the biggest, and coolest question this system has me asking is, what would it be like for us to reach another planet in the same time that it takes us to reach our own moon?

-Allen White

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