Space Research

Trappist-1 exoplanets may have over 1,000 times more water than Earth

Arizona State University and Vanderbilt University have suggested through a new study that the seven planets surrounding the star Trappist-1 may have even more water than required for life to exist than Earth.

The study says that this much amount of water could ultimately lessens the probability of hosting any form of life. The TRAPPIST-1’s seven rocky planets reside about 39 light-years from Earth. While three of the planets orbiting the dim red dwarf star were discovered in 2016, the other four more were announced a year later. Each of the seven planets is about the same size as Earth. The planets were discovered using the transit method, which uses the dips in the brightness of the star to determine their size.

“Too much water can be a bad thing,” said Cayman Unterborn, the lead author of the study. “The TRAPPIST-1s are interesting, but maybe not for life.”

Unterborn is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.
For the purpose of the study, Unterborn and his team used computer models to determine the composition of the planets. It was found that water makes up more than half the mass of the outer planets in the system. In fact, the planets with the most water may have over 1,000 times more water than Earth.

The innermost planets circling Trappist-1 are about 10 percent water by mass and the more distant planets are almost 50 percent water by mass. In comparison, Earth is only 0.2 percent water by mass. This could probably mean that the seven planets may consist entirely of water and there is no exposed land which is required to make a planet habitable.

The study findings are detailed in the journal Nature Astronomy.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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