Bad News, Humans: TRAPPIST-1 Is Not the Alien Paradise We Were Hoping For

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Scientists have found a new solar system called TRAPPIST-1 and they had proposed that it might be potentially habitable. It is a seven-planet conga line orbiting an ultra-cool because it is filled with liquid water and temperate climates, and only 39 light-years away. But after the latest research, they think that it is less 'alien-friendly'. Scientists now finding that TRAPPIST-1 is so volatile, either its three 'Earth-like' planets have one hell of a magnetosphere, or we're looking at yet another set of uninhabitable worlds.


During the K2 mission of NASA's Kepler space telescope, they obtained the data and a team led by astronomer Krisztián Vida from Konkoly Observatory in Hungary has been analyzing luminosity patterns in that raw photometric data of TRAPPIST-1.

Over an 80-day period, they clocked 42 high-energy flares blasting from TRAPPIST-1, including five that were 'multi-peaked' eruptions, meaning they gave off several bursts of energy in one go.

The eruption was so strong that it matches with the infamous Carrington event in 1859, which was so powerful, if it happened today, would devastate global communication systems.

But if life on Earth can withstand flares like the Carrington Event, why can't hypothetical aliens on TRAPPIST-1's three Earth-like planets?

It is like some consistent bombardment as the average time between these flares was just 28 hours. The researchers analyzed that the storms caused by TRAPPIST-1’s flares would be hundreds or thousands of times more powerful than the storms that hit Earth.

On top of all of that, the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 star system are much closer to their star than we are to our Sun. That means this persistent bombardment would likely destroy any stability in their atmospheres, making it very difficult for even the most basic life to get a foothold.

The team concludes: "The frequent strong flares of TRAPPIST-1 are probably disadvantageous for hosting life on the orbiting exoplanets, as the atmospheres of the exoplanets are constantly altered and cannot return to a steady state."

Just to drive this depressing point home even further, over at Universe Today points out that.

Gough said: "This study suggests that planets like those in the TRAPPIST system would need magnetospheres of tens to hundreds of Gauss, whereas Earth's magnetosphere is only about 0.5 Gauss, how the TRAPPIST planets could produce a magnetosphere powerful enough to protect their atmosphere?"

So things aren't looking so great for our sister solar system.

Now it looks tough to find life elsewhere in our universe but researchers are still confident.

They just look like such a cool hang.

Evan Gough said: “Earth's robust magnetic field protects us from the worst parts of the Sun's flares, but it's unlikely the TRAPPIST-1 planets have the same shield up.”

One thing to keep in mind is that the study is still undergoing peer-review, so the results might be subject to change.

But if taken alongside previous studies that have already brought the system's habitability into question, we might have to reconsider those awesome NASA travel posters, and come up with something more… Hellscapey.
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