Feb 22 2017

TRAPPIST-1 the UltraCool

Published by at 9:06 pm under Astronomy,T-Space,Writing

By now probably anyone paying attention is aware of NASA’s announcement of seven Earth-sized exoplanets, three possibly in the Habitable Zone, surrounding the “ultracool dwarf” star TRAPPIST-1 (aka 2MASS J23062928-0502285), about 39 light years away. Now, ultracool as having seven terrestrial (rocky) exoplanets is, that word really refers to the fact that it’s a fairly dim red dwarf star (type M8, for those counting). That means those planets in the hab zone? They’re really close. Like roughly 7-day orbit close. (Three of the others are even closer to their sun.)

That doesn’t rule out life. Habitable Zone means, that, well, they might be habitable. The temperatures could be right for liquid water. No guarantees, of course; technically, Venus and Mars are within (barely) Sol’s habitable zone. But still.

In the context of my T-Space series, this is also ultracool. At 12 parsecs, it’s not far beyond the 10-parsec limit that very loosely defines T-Space (in fact, it’s about the same distance as Zeta Reticuli, but off in a different direction). Because it’s not a G-type star like our sun (or nearly so like some K and F stars), it’s very unlikely to have had planets altered by the Terraformers. Earth life probably wouldn’t grow there because the sunlight and seasons would be all wrong. But that’s not to say that something else couldn’t grow there. There’s actually a fair body of serious speculation as to what life on a planet orbiting a red dwarf might be like.

Remember the degkhidesh? (Well, if you haven’t read The Reticuli Deception yet, you wouldn’t.) They came from somewhere. And although not yet explicitly stated in print, there’s a good chance they’re not from yet another terraformed planet orbiting a Sol-like star. We may have found their home world, or one of their systems near T-Space. Time to send an expedition to check it out.

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