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The TRAPPIST-1 system being discovered with seven Earth-sized planets was the most exciting news announced earlier this year. This ultra cool dwarf star is 40 light years away from Earth and has been on constant radar by NASA scientist due to the planets it holds in its vicinity. Out of the seven Earth sized planets, three are the most likely to be habitable upon further probing inside the planet’s atmosphere. With each study, the hope for having a planet other than Earth to sustain life increases as scientists discover intriguing facts related to this system.
Since scientists started studying these Exo-planets, contradicting revelations have been seen. One study suggested that the solar flares from the dwarf star might cause extensive geomagnetic storms on the planets which might end all life if there is one while a second study suggested that there might be at least one planet with vegetation. One more study concluded that the non-availability of large moons around the planet might raise unexplained questions about habitability.
Hubble telescope has offered an insight into the possibility of water on the surface of the planets by detecting the presence of hydrogen on the outer parts of the planet. Vincent Bourrier and an international team of astronomers from the Observatoire de l’Université de Genève used the Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) to derive a conclusion that the ultraviolet radiation the planets receive from their star defines the percentage of sustainability of life on that planet. The innermost planets receive the most amount of ultraviolet energy which has led to a substantial loss of water as detected by the Hubble over the course of their existence. On the other hand, the outer planets had a minimal amount of free hydrogen on the outer surface of the planet, indicating the presence of much more surface water on its surface as compared to the inner planets.In a statement from NASA and ESA, Bourrier explained ultraviolet radiation to be a very important factor in the atmospheric evolution of the planets, as in our own planet the ultraviolet sunlight breaks molecules apart, similarly, ultraviolet radiation from the star can break water vapor in the atmospheres of exoplanets into hydrogen and oxygen.
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