exoplanets

Stuart Rankin/Flickr (CC BY NC 2.0)

Hubble teases possibility of water on nearby exoplanets

Earlier this year, scientists discovered a nearby ultracool dwarf star (which is regrettably a reference to its temperature rather than its rad style) named TRAPPIST-1 with a record-setting seven Earth-sized planets in its orbit. The finding spurred a team of scientists to investigate the possibility of water—and thus maybe life—in the system. Using data gleaned from the Hubble telescope, researchers have calculated the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation the planets receive from their star, a Hubble press release reports. UV radiation can break apart water molecules in the atmosphere and even cause hydrogen and oxygen atoms to be lost to space, depleting a planet of water. Such was the case for the two planets closest to TRAPPIST-1, but the team also found that three planets in the habitable zone of the star should’ve lost way less water, hinting tantalizingly at the possibility of life a mere 40 light-years away. 

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