NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Gathers Data Of TRAPPIST-1 System’s Outermost Planet

First Posted: May 23, 2017 05:40 AM EDT

A University of Washington astronomer and an international research team have been working to know the complex movements of the seven exoplanets that are circling an ultra-cool dwarf star that is known as TRAPPIST-1. The team has been nailing down the coordinates of the outermost world in the process.

The dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, is much less luminous than the Sun, and it is only a bit larger than the planet Jupiter. According to, the research team already confirmed that the planet TRAPPIST-1h orbits its star in every 18.77 days. But because it is far from its host star, it is likely uninhabitable. The team also discovered the six planets' orbital periods in a mathematical pattern.

The dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, is just 40 light-years away from Earth, which is why astronomers are very interested in it because three out of its seven exoplanets may be potentially habitable. There is a TRAPPIST (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope) telescope that is located in Chile and it is also gathering data of the dwarf star and its exoplanets.

As per SpaceRef, the ultra-cool dwarf star, TRAPPIST-1, was first discovered in 2016 by the TRAPPIST collaboration. At first, researchers thought that the system only has three planets, but additional exoplanets were found with Spitzer and ground-based telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope of NASA is gathering data of atmospheric observations, while the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to examine probable atmospheres in further detail.

The University of Washington doctoral student, Rodrigo Luger, and his team added data from NASA's Kepler space telescope. The NASA telescope is conducting what is known as its K2 planet survey. The K2 planet survey is also the reason how the team found out about the TRAPPIST-1h's day orbit.

The researchers also discovered the timing of the seven planets orbit. The timing was finely tuned in a 2:3:4:6:9:15:24 pattern. Researchers described it as a chain that would keep the planetary system running like clockwork for billions of years without crashing.

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