In February 2017, American space agency NASA made a ground-breaking revelation and announced the discovery of seven Earth-like exoplanets orbiting - TRAPPIST-1 - a star in a galaxy lying 40 light-years away from Earth.
An older star may be 'quieter, ' the researchers explain, and the study confirms that, compared to other ultra-cool dwarf stars, Trappist-1 does in fact create fewer flares. "Which is about twice as old as the sun in our solar system". On the down side, the planets are so close to their star that they have "soaked up billions of years of high-energy radiation, which could have boiled off atmospheres and large amounts of water".
According to a team of global scientists from the University of California, San Diego, the approximate age of TRAPPIST-1 is 5.4 to 9.8 billion years, whereas our planetary system was formed some 4.5 billion years ago.
At up to 9.8 billion years old, Trappist-1 could be double the age of our solar system, which formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago.
The age of the star plays a crucial role in determining whether it can support life or not as older stars are capable of producing lesser flares than younger stars, and this quality makes the older stars more capable of hosting life.
It's possible, however, that the atmosphere has not been eroded, the researchers note.
The analyses led by researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) found that radiation from the red dwarf star at the heart of the Trappist-1 system could be powerful enough to destroy a planet's atmosphere, ultimately hurting the chances that any lifeforms could survive, or even form at all. Others have shared concerns that the planetary orbits of the TRAPPIST-1 system are unstable.
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Burgasser said his team was able to find the age of Trappist-1 by measuring the changes and movement of the stars in the system.
Seven near Earth objects were found near Trappist-1.
'Stars much more massive than the sun consume their fuel quickly, brightening over millions of years and exploding as supernovae, ' said Eric Mamajek, deputy program scientist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program.
Of the seven planets in the Trappist-1 system, three are located in the habitable zone, where it's thought the conditions would be right to sustain liquid water at the surface.
TRAPPIST-1 is an ultracool dwarf star, not a yellow dwarf star like the Sun.
Astrophysicists said it suggests there could be life on these planets.