Astronomers continue to speculate about the habitability of the planetary system TRAPPIST-1

Perhaps one of the most interesting planetary systems discovered over the last time, is a system of TRAPPIST-1. Located “only” 40 light years from Earth, it is home for the seven earth-like planets, the relay around the small red dwarf star. Astronomers believe that the three planets of the system are located in the so-called habitable zone of the star. Two new studies were designed to understand the potential habitability of these three worlds. Scientists have paid special attention to the level of the radiation of the stars acting on the planet, as well as on the tidal forces of the planets-neighbors. As it turned out, these two factors increase the chances that three planets are discussing the possible existence of life.

One of the oddities of this system is that all seven planets, named from the TRAPPIST-to 1b-1h are in orbit close to stars and from each other. In other words, they could fit in the space between mercury and the Sun. At first glance it may show that life for the location so close to the star would be fatal, but fortunately, TRAPPIST-1 is a relatively cool red dwarf, so the radius of its habitable zone is much lower than that of the Sun.

The problem lies in the fact that the star TRAPPIST-1 is very active. She throws a lot more high-energy particles than our Sun. This radiation can break down complex molecules necessary for the emergence and development of life.

The radiation of the red dwarf

One of the studies was devoted to modeling the motion of high-energy particles (protons) after they are emitted star TRAPPIST-1. Scientists have modeled their interaction with the magnetic field of a star and found that the majority of these protons will bombard the fourth planet of the system — TRAPPIST-1e. Unfortunately, it is viewed by researchers as the most likely candidate for habitability.

“These particles should be delayed magnetic field, but if you enter a factor of turbulence, the protons can leave the magnetic field. The direction of movement of the particles depends on the magnetic field of the star deviates from the axis of rotation. This stream of particles can be a million times more intense than the one that hits our planet’s magnetic field,” says Federico Fraschetti, lead author of the study.

Our Earth has a magnetic field that protects us from exposure to these high-energy particles. Scientists have suggested that the planet TRAPPIST-1e may also have a magnetic field, however to effectively protect the surface of a planetary object, it will be required in this case, 100 times stronger magnetic field than our Earth has. And this, scientists say, is unlikely.
At the same time, experts do not believe that this situation automatically rules out the existence of life on this planet. In the framework of other studies were taken out the assumption that some planets system TRAPPIST-1 can be water worlds, and their deep oceans can protect marine life from the effects of this powerful radiation.

Tidal capture

In addition, scientists believethat the planets TRAPPIST-1 is probably tidal locked. On the one hand, this means that the same hemisphere of each planet always faces the star, while the eternal night envelops the other side.

On Earth, the Moon raises the tides not only in the oceans. Tidal forces deform the spherical shape of the mantle and crust. In the system of TRAPPIST-1 two closest to the star the planet is located close enough to each other, so scientists speculated that universes can cause tides on each other like the Moon to the Earth. Tidal forces can be so powerful that it is able to maintain the volcanic activity on both cosmic bodies. This, in turn, allows to keep the atmosphere on both planets.

The researchers also believe that the sixth planet of the system, TRAPPIST-1g, is also subject to tidal forces of its neighbors. If this planet is the ocean world, as was assumed in other studies, the effect of tidal forces can also maintain the temperature of the water on the planet is high enough it could be life.

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