That solar system found with Earth-like planets? A UD professor discovered its star - Technical.ly Delaware

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Mar. 1, 2017 9:28 am

That solar system found with Earth-like planets? A UD professor discovered its star

TRAPPIST-1 was the talk of the town last week.

TRAPPIST-1, home to three planets in the habitable zone.

(Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In case you missed the insane news from NASA last week, scientists used a telescope to study the TRAPPIST-1 system. There, they found seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a single cool dwarf star. All seven planets could have liquid water, and three of them orbit in the habitable zone. That means they’re not too close nor too far from their star to host life.

That announcement, which NASA actually held a press conference for, wouldn’t have come without work done by a scientist and professor at the University of Delaware.

Professor John Gizis was the lead on a paper that identified the star in 1999. He was a member of a NASA and National Science Foundation-funded research team for the work. The TRAPPIST-1 star was once called, a nickname I’m sure, 2MASS J23062928-0502285.

Like vinyl and art house cinema, I like the original name better. You had to be there to really get it.

UDaily caught up with Gizis after NASA’s major announcement. “It’s a very small and cool dwarf star,” Gizis said of TRAPPIST-1. “Because itss temperature is so cool, it hadn’t been noticed before we saw it almost 20 years ago, even though it’s quite close to the sun.”

Its size and temperature might make its orbiting planets targets for human colonization down the line. When those generation ships launch off into space however many years from now, they’ll have a UD professor to thank for their destination.

Mind. Blown.

Mind. Blown.

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Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson is a consumer tech, gaming and science reporter. He's worked in news for nearly 10 years, and now he's looking to make an impact at home in Delaware.

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