Scientists have begun searching the recently-discovered seven planet TRAPPIST-1 solar system for aliens.
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) telescopes had been monitoring the multi-planet system for signs of life even before the discovery was announced. So far, no telltale signs of radio traffic have been detected, but further searches are in the works.
Researchers used a radio telescope capable of detecting transmitters with 100 kilowatts of power or more, which is ten times more power than the radar at a local airport. The lack of radio signals could mean alien life in the system haven’t developed the radio or don’t use it. Scientists believe TRAPPIST-1 could be a better place for life to develop than our own solar system.
“[T]he opportunities for life in the Trappist 1 system make our own solar system look fourth-rate,” Seth Shostak, a Senior Astronomer at SETI, said in a press statement. “And if even a single planet eventually produced technically competent beings, that species could quickly disperse its kind to all the rest.”
The star TRAPPIST-1, which is just 40 lights years away, is much cooler than our sun, but three of the system’s planets are likely in its “Goldilocks Zone,” making them potentially habitable.
Researchers are currently using the Hubble Space Telescope to determine if these planets had atmosphere. One of the potentially inhabitable planets, dubbed TRAPPIST-1E, is very similar in size to Earth and likely has very similar temperatures. Another called TRAPPIST-1F is potentially covered in water.
“Finding a second earth isn’t just a matter of if, but when,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, said during a press conference Wednesday. “Imagine how many worlds out there have a shot of developing a habitable ecosystem which we could explore.”
Some exoplanets closely resemble Earth and are a few of the best places to look for alien life. European astronomers identified a planet very similar to Earth in August, around the star Proxima Centauri. Scientists don’t know if the planet, called “Proxima b,” has an atmosphere or possesses a magnetosphere, but there’s already a lot speculation about the possibility of life there.
Scientists consider Proxima b a good candidate for supporting life. Initial reports suggest Proxima b has a rocky surface, is close in size to Earth and circles its star closely enough to be relatively warm. Proxima b is likely in Proxima Centauri’s “Goldilocks Zone.”
Research suggests life on Proxima b would be subject to frequent planet-wide extinction events since it’s close in proximity to Proxima Centauri.
If life did develop on Proxima b, it may exist in a relatively primitive microbial form, NASA scientists previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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