NASA has revealed the first official image of Trappist, the fascinating dwarf star with between 4 and 7 potentially habitable planets orbiting it.
Ok so the image isn’t much to look at; just a few pixels in fact, but these pixels represent what many astronomers and researchers believe is our best shot at finding Earth 2.0. The bellow image offers more of an artistic impression as to how the system might look up close.
The data shown is a target pixel file, which displays the light levels caught by the Kepler Space Telescope after looking at Trappist for an hour. The image released doesn’t show any of the 7 planets going across the star which is the usual way of capturing info about exoplanets, but it does give us a little bit of motivation in knowing that if we can see it, we should be able to get there one day.
The release of the raw, uncalibrated data collected will aid astronomers in preparing proposals due this month to use telescopes on Earth next winter to further investigate TRAPPIST-1. By late May, the routine processing of the data will be completed and the fully calibrated data will be made available at the public archive. – NASA
The data release was purely motivational and does make a difference to researchers and to the public around the world.
“Scientists and enthusiasts around the world are invested in learning everything they can about these Earth-size worlds. Providing the K2 raw data as quickly as possible was a priority to give investigators an early look so they could best define their follow-up research plans. We’re thrilled that this will also allow the public to witness the process of discovery.” – Geert Barentsen, K2 research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
NASA has announced a further data release to the public in May and the information will provide the founding for many scientific papers and proposals. The hope, for me at least, is that the discovery and the information will inspire our top minds to create the necessary technology to get at least a probe to Trappist within a generation.