MAR 17, 2017 4:37 AM PDT

Kepler Grabbed This Snapshot of the TRAPPIST-1 System

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

The TRAPPIST-1 system has a lot of scientists very excited about the future of space exploration because it was recently discovered to have as many as seven Earth-like exoplanets within (or near) the host star’s habitable zone.

Even for those that are a little too far from the star to be habitable based on our modern understanding of habitable zones, a recent study even concluded that it's possible for volcanoes to help support life on planets that are a little too far from the host star.

At around 40 light years away, TRAPPIST-1 is too distant to capture any clear pictures of the system with modern imaging technology. Nevertheless, NASA has shared the following image captured with the Kepler Space Telescope. The full footage shows a time lapse of light movement from the ultra-cool dwarf star:

Image Credit: NASA Ames/G. Barentsen

The image above is a screen grab from a GIF image NASA shared that had 60 frames captured during a 74-day observation. This observation was concluded earlier this month and the 60 frames account for one frame every minute during an hour-long period. The full animation is avialable below:

“Called a target pixel file, the image covers an area of 11 square pixels or 44 square arcseconds of the sky. This area is equivalent in size to holding up a grain of sand at arm’s length towards the sky,” NASA said in a statement.

Square and pixelated, the images depict some kind of a retro 8-bit video game picture, but this is simply due to the sheer distance there is between the system and our imaging equipment.

Kepler is dedicated to searching for exoplanets, and one of the things it does best is pick out sensitive light changes that could indicate the existence of exoplanets orbiting around other star systems. The flickering you see in the video isn't due to exoplanets orbiting the star, but rather because of algorithmic corrections that were made to the picture for accuracy.

In the case of TRAPPIST-1, the small Earth-like exoplanets reportedly cause a 1% dip in brightness dip that wouldn’t be noticeable with the naked eye. Kepler is indeed our saving grace in this case, because it can detect these small fluctuations.

There’s a lot of interest in the TRAPPIST-1 system, and it’s hoped that future space observation equipment could help to make examining it more closely possible. Perhaps the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be able to get a better look; or if not, it may help us to learn about other systems around us.

Source: NASA

About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 16, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
The Probe that was Almost Swallowed by an Asteroid
JUL 16, 2022
The Probe that was Almost Swallowed by an Asteroid
To study the formation of our planet, as well as the overall solar system, and to study the possible source of all the o ...
JUL 24, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Past, Present, and Future: Exploring Planetary Volcanism and Cryovolcanism in our Cosmos
JUL 24, 2022
Past, Present, and Future: Exploring Planetary Volcanism and Cryovolcanism in our Cosmos
Volcanoes are one of nature’s most awe-inspiring creations, giant mountains ejecting red hot lava that are both be ...
AUG 11, 2022
Space & Astronomy
The First-Ever Detection of Gas in a Circumplanetary Disk!
AUG 11, 2022
The First-Ever Detection of Gas in a Circumplanetary Disk!
A team of astronomers have made the first-ever detection of gas in a circumplanetary disk using the Atacama Large Millim ...
AUG 15, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
Astronomers Witnessed the Merging of Two Black Holes That Were Born Far Apart in Space
AUG 15, 2022
Astronomers Witnessed the Merging of Two Black Holes That Were Born Far Apart in Space
Think of our spacetime as fabric. When we place something in it, the fabric curves. This is what happens every ...
SEP 14, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Looking Back in Space: NASA's Project Gemini
SEP 14, 2022
Looking Back in Space: NASA's Project Gemini
This series will explore historic space missions from the start of the Space Age to the present day, including both crew ...
NOV 14, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Dwarf Galaxy's Black Hole Revealed Through Star's Demise
NOV 14, 2022
Dwarf Galaxy's Black Hole Revealed Through Star's Demise
In a recent study published in Nature Astronomy, an international team of researchers led by the University of Copenhage ...
Loading Comments...