Dwarf star Trappist-1 is tiny, just a little bigger than Jupiter, but it’s making huge news today. As you’ve probably heard, it’s not home to just three Earth-like exoplanets, but a massive seven, three of which could have oceans of water, just like Earth. And it’s only 39 light-years away, which means the planets are close enough that we could find out.
Usually Google Doodles are planned in advance, and celebrate anniversaries and other occasions, but today, the web giant is pulling out all the stops to help commemorate this discovery with an animated Doodle.
Telescopes are already turning their attentions to the system, homing in on the planets’ atmospheres. As they pass in front of the star, the atmospheres are back-lit, which allows spectroscopic analysis of their chemical composition, which will help determine whether there is liquid water. This may be a bit difficult, as the star is very faint, but with a new generation of telescopes seeing first light in the near future, Trappist-1’s secrets might not be so far away either.
In the meantime, you can play with an interactive model of the system on NASA’s website.