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7 Earthly Neighbors have Been Discovered…But should we even care?

Duy Vo

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In a star system far, far away…astronomers have discovered not one, but seven Earth-like planets that has the potential to sustain life. These planets exists within only 42 light years away which makes them relatively close in space terms.

It’s quite a discovery but the reality is much harsher than it seems. The seven planets are 40 light years away; So if one light year is equivalent to about 63,000 Earth years, 40 light years should be about 2.4 million Earth years away. Considering the fact that humans have yet to master space travel, light travel seems almost impossible and might still be for a very long time.

Even more inconvenient is understanding how these planets work. Their solar system, also known as the Trappist-1 star system, revolves around a dwarf star, Trappist-1, which is basically their version of our sun. They keyword here is dwarf. The sun’s total size is around 338 quadrillion miles cubed. That’s 15 zeroes! Trappist-1, the dwarf star, is only eight percent of our Sun, making it about 27 quadrillion cubed. It’s still relatively large but scientists believe that in terms of biological factors, the human body will not adapt so kindly to the new and much smaller resource of light. Furthermore, the smaller size of the star also makes the 7 planets’ orbital period much less than Earth’s. The highest orbital period for these planets are at 12 days compared to Earth’s 365 days. There are theories regarding the complexities of aging and how gravity can affect the physiology of our body. However, NASA have also stated that age could be a biological factor, meaning that it is dependent mainly through the DNA and not by the gravitational force of Earth. Humans can simply go through years with little sunlight on these planets can be extremely detrimental to their health and physicality.

Despite the overwhelming number of disappointments, it is still a milestone for all astronomers alike. We can definitely celebrate the fact that life exists elsewhere and that Earth is not a lonely planet out in the universe. Of course, harnessing the power of light and human limitations seems almost impractical but that shouldn’t stop scientists and astronomers to explore the endless cosmos.

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7 Earthly Neighbors have Been Discovered…But should we even care?