According to a new simulation, life could have spread between all planets in the Trappist-1 system rapidly.
In February 2017, NASA’s scientists made one of the greatest discoveries in space exploration: Seven planets that are potentially habitable in a star system called Trappist-1, located around 40-light-years from Earth. Three of seven planets have such ideal conditions, that life may have already developed there.
If there is life on any of the alien worlds located in the Trappist-1 system, then it may not be alone, according to experts. A new research paper found that debris of asteroid or comet impacts could have transported early life from one planet to the other in the tightly-packed star system, which is located around 40 light-years from Earth.
Scientists note that organic material could have spread by collisions of asteroids or comets among the planets while protecting them from radiation and reentry.
The treappist-1 system is our best chance of finding alien life so far. This enigmatic star system, which is located around 40 light-years from Earth, features 7 planets that according to experts may be home to alien lifeforms.
A study that was published in the astrophysical Journal Letters states that given the close distance of the Trappist-1 planets, life could have transferred between them in a matter of days.
“With several short-period, Earth-mass planets in the habitable zone (HZ), the TRAPPIST-1 system potentially allows litho-panspermia to take place on very short timescales.”– as the scientists noted in the study.
“Frequent material exchange between adjacent planets in the tightly packed TRAPPIST-1 system appears likely,” said the study’s lead author Krijt. “If any of those materials contained life, it’s possible they could inoculate another planet with life.”
In order for alien life to spread across the Trappist-1 planets, an asteroid or comet would have to collide against one of these planets, launching larger debris into space, which could protect life from hazardous conditions in space.
Scientists noted that the material would have to be ejected fast enough to break away from the planet’s gravitational pull, but at the same time, not so fast that it would destroy the life form. This journey would have to be relatively short in order to life form could survive.
In order to come to this conclusion, scientists from the University of Chicago made several computer simulations for TRAPPIST-1 and discovered that the process could happen over a period as short as 10 years.
“Given that tightly packed planetary systems are being detected more frequently, this research will make us rethink what we expect to find in terms of habitable planets and the transfer of life—not only in the TRAPPIST-1 system, but elsewhere,” said Fred Ciesla, a professor of geophysical sciences and a co-author of the paper.
“We should be thinking in terms of systems of planets as a whole, and how they interact, rather than in terms of individual planets.”
Are there life on one of the trappist-1 planets their masses—and their densities— still is just a hope.
After NASA’s James Webb Telescope will launch in 2018, more details about the alien worlds will come to light. It is designed to identify the atmospheres, and signs of alien life on distant worlds.
“We will further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets,”- said Sean Carey, a manager of NASA’s Science Center at Caltech, California.