Astronomers were shocked when they first discovered the TRAPPIST-1 solar system five years ago in 2015. At that time, they spotted three Earth-sized planets orbiting the star by using transit photometry with the TRAPPIST Telescope (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small) at the La Silla Observatory in Chile and the Observatoire de l’Oukaïmeden in Morocco. The discovering team was led by Michaël Gillon at the University of Liège in Belgium.
But in the meantime, astronomers have discovered about TRAPPIST-1 that it has seven rocky exoplanets. But another interesting discovery has recently surfaced.
The planets are orbiting in a flat plane
This is another staggering resemblance with our own solar system, as the planets are uniformly aligned and orbiting in a relatively flat plane. The discovery could mean one step forward in understanding the history of TRAPPIST-1.
In the study paper, the researchers noted:
Despite the limitations of the data, our observation of the Doppler transits in the TRAPPIST-1 system are the first such observations, to our knowledge, for such a low-mass star,
No other results have been reported for stars cooler than 3500 K. By performing additional observations with the IRD and other new high-resolution infrared spectrographs, a new window will be opened into the orbital architectures of planetary systems around low-mass stars.
The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
As a reminder and thankfully, astronomers found over 4,000 exoplanets until now, and there are plenty of peculiar ones. But unfortunately, not a single one offers compelling evidence that it hosts any kind of life forms. But the good part is that astronomers will keep searching, as finding extraterrestrial life forms is the ultimate goal for many astronomers.
Ultimately, the most decisive resemblance between TRAPPIST-1 and our Solar System would be if there is complex life on both systems. Intelligent beings like us humans are extremely difficult to emerge, and science hasn’t figured out completely yet how it was possible.