(Mirror Daily, United States) – The TRAPPIST-1 system consists of planets that are candidates for supporting life outside our solar system. To gain insight into the condition of these planets and how they evolved, it is important to know the age of the star system. Until recently, age estimates of the TRAPPIST-1 have not been sufficiently precise.
Now, a new paper, available in preprint, by Adam Burgasser, from the University of California at San Diego and Eric Mamajek, a scientist from NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program in Pasadena, California, claims to bring a better estimate. They discovered that the age of the TRAPPIST-1 system is seemingly older than that of our own Sun.
TRAPPIST-1, Seemingly Older By Even Up to Double the Age?
In 2015, astronomers found three Earth-sized planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star about 40 light-years away. This is slightly larger than Jupiter but far more massive, making up the TRAPPIST-1 system. Since the initial discovery, a total of seven planets has been detected. The age of the star system has significant implications, for life to exist on these planets. In young star systems, planets would suffer from high-energy solar flares. In contrast, in older systems, planets could lose their atmosphere and water from long-term solar exposure, as it is believed to have occurred on Mars.
Burgasser and Mamajek determined this more precise age of TRAPPIST-1 by including multiple measurements. For example, they included the orbital speed around the Milky Way, as older stars move faster. They also looked at the TRAPPIST-1 system’s chemical compositions and the frequency of its solar flares. From this, they constrained the age of TRAPPIST-1 to be between 5.4 and 9.8 billion years, nearly two times older than that of our solar system.
This new information about the age of TRAPPIST-1 will allow exoplanetary scientists to gain insight about how planetary atmospheres form and evolve. It will also be offering clues about whether life would be possible on these planets, or not.
Image Source: JPL/NASA
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