Astronomers and other scientists focused on finding a habitable ‘earth-like’ exoplanet in the cosmos have many requirements that have to be met before they seriously zero in on a candidate. One of these requirements is that the planet have a sizable iron core that would lend itself to the creation and maintenance of a magnetosphere.
In February of 2017, European astronomers went public with the news that they had discovered a seven-planet orbiting the nearby star TRAPPIST-1, a celestial object located 39.6 light-years from the Sun in the constellation Aquarius.
Of the seven planets, three of them orbit in what astronomers calls the habitable zone around a star.
A team of scientists from Columbia University have further uncovered that one of those three planets has a large iron core. The planet TRAPPIST-1e is estimated to have a core measuring around 50 percent of the planets radius, landing it in an ideal range. The Earth’s core constitutes 55 percent of its radius.
Undergraduate student David Kipping of Columbia exclaimed:
“This gets me more excited about TRAPPIST-1e in particular. That planet is a tad smaller than the Earth, sits right in the habitable-zone and now we know has a large iron core like the Earth.We also know it does not possess a light volatile envelope thanks to other measurements.
Further, TRAPPIST-1 appears to be a quieter star than Proxima so I’m much more optimistic about TRAPPIST-1e as potential biosphere than Proxima b right now.”
For the past few years, Kipping and his colleagues have from Cool Worlds Laboratory have been studying possible exoplanets around Proxima Centauri, a star just much closer to Earth than TRAPPIST at 4.25 light-years from the Sun.
The future of the search will be greatly aided with the use of the new James Webb Space Telescope which provides scientists with a much deeper and clearer look into the cosmos.
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