Ciencia

TRAPPIST-1 could be twice older than our solar system

TRAPPIST-1 could be twice older than our solar system

TRAPPIST-1, a system of seven Earth-size planets orbiting around a nearby star, is up to twice as old as our solar system, NASA announced Friday. NASA researchers have now found out that the TRAPPIST-1 system is older than the solar system.

"If there is life on these planets, I would speculate that it has to be hardy life, because it has to be able to survive some potentially dire scenarios for billions of years", Burgasser said.

"We think it's about 7 and a half to 9 billion years old", said Burgasser.

According to a team of global scientists from the University of California, San Diego, the approximate age of TRAPPIST-1 is 5.4 to 9.8 billion years, whereas our planetary system was formed some 4.5 billion years ago.

The system's seniority means the planets have had plenty of time to potentially evolve life, but it also means said life would have had to survive a diverse array of disruptions.

But, being so close to the star, the planets may have been subjected to high-energy radiation for billions of years, leading massive quantities of water up to the equivalent of an Earth ocean to evaporate from all but the two most distant. The regular periodicity of the orbits is what led to the discovery of the planets in the first place, and researchers have even turned the TRAPPIST-1 system into a musical instrument.

But, two separate studies have now cast doubts on the possibility of life existing on any of the three Trappist-1 planets situated within the star's habitable zone.

Because all seven of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets are bunched close to their host star, some astronomers have suggested solar flares could burn away any liquid water.

The researchers investigated several other conditions, including the impact of the temperature on ecology and evolution, and the effects of ultraviolet radiation from the Trappist-1 star.

While this may be a promising factor in the search for life, it isn't the only thing that must be considered, the researchers explain. "The chance that there's no life is probably very small at this point".

Seven near Earth objects were found near Trappist-1.

However, old age does not necessarily mean that a planet's atmosphere has been eroded, said Eric Mamajek, deputy programme scientist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Programme.

'But Trappist-1 is like a slow-burning candle that will shine for about 900 times longer than the current age of the universe'. The closest sun-like star is tau Ceti, which also has four Earth-sized planets in orbit around it.

And, in the future, additional observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope could give further insight.