Thursday, 23 February 2017

m-class or goldilocks

Amongst the thousands of confirmed exoplanets in the firmament and the untold trillions of worlds estimated, NASA just held a colossal press-conference that served to the public the very exciting news of a solar system discovered in orbit around a cool (ultra-cool, Red Giants are m-class stars but Star Trek’s planetary classification system is unfortunately made up) dwarf star in the constellation of Aquarius, some thirty nine light years distance from us.
Astronomers are giving the discovery the designation of TRAPPIST-1 as it was the first solar system to be observed directly using transit photometry.  The acronym for the programme and one of the telescopes used spells out Trappist, like the monastic order and brew-masters of Liège, where the search method was first conceived. Seven rocky (terrestrial) worlds orbit the star and at least three are thought to be in the habitable-zone, conducive to life as we know it thriving. After compiling and analysing telemetry for a year and half, researchers are very confident in their results. Finding no life in that entire star system would be, I’d wager, far more stranger than discovering extraterrestrial life. As we said above, this ensemble joins an already crowded Cosmos, but I think it’s brilliant that there’s already an artist’s conception to captivate and stoke the imagination—it reminds me of Mongo of Ming the Merciless and the other floating kingdoms in that overcast empire. Here’s to science, NASA and the monks. Flash jump, everybody!