Do some of the Earth-sized planets around a dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1, just 40 light-years away, have liquid water? Newly reported findings from the Hubble Space Telescope give astrobiologists continued cause for hope.
The seven TRAPPIST-1 planets created a sensation in February because they’re the biggest assemblage of Earth-scale worlds known to exist in a single planetary system. What’s more, three of the planets – known by the letters e, f and g – are in an orbital region where scientists say water could exist in liquid form.
That’s thought to be a key condition for life as we know it, which is why the region is known as TRAPPIST-1’s “habitable zone.”
But is the water really there? To get at that question, astronomers used Hubble to study the amount of ultraviolet radiation received by the planets, and what that might be doing to their atmospheres.