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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What's the Significance of Trappist-1?

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This is a collaboration video with RealLifeLore.

Be sure to follow the link at the end of this video to check out his work!

This is Earth.

Every human being that's ever lived has called it home.

A seemingly lone bastion of life in an otherwise barren universe.

Earth is something very special.

Despite our best efforts, we've never detected any form of life beyond our pale blue dot.

Why is that?

What attributes make planet earth a better host for life than any other celestial body?

First and foremost, the presence of liquid water

Based on our current understanding, liquid water is a pre-requisite for life as we know it.

Thanks to a number of crucial factors not present on a number of other planets, Earth is perfectly suited for water.

The primary factor we are going to consider is the

Earth's location relative to the Sun.

Our little blue planet resides in what's

called the habitable zone which is the

range of orbits around a star within

which a planet could support liquid

water, given sufficient atmospheric

pressure. This limited band is often

aptly referred to as the "Goldilocks

zone". Any closer to the star and the

planet is too hot.

Any further and it's too cold. Luckily

for us the planet Earth sits comfortably

within the habitable zone of our sun.

Because of this prime galactic real

estate, earth has played host to a

dazzling array of life forms, from single

cells all the way to incredibly complex

beings. You might be thinking, with all the

billions of other planets out there

surely earth can't be the only one so

perfect for life can it? On February 22nd

2017 NASA held a press conference to

reveal some very exciting news.

This is Trappist-1. It's an ultra-cool

dwarf star about 40 light-years away in

the Aquarius constellation. Astronomers

first discovered three earth-sized

planets orbiting the small star back in

2015.

NASA's exciting announcement? Not only

did they discover four new exoplanets

bringing the total to seven, but three of

those planets fall well within the

habitable zone of Trappist-1. Let's take

a look at the full roister. Here they are

in all their glory! Trappist B, C, D, E, F, G and H.

Not exactly the most elegant names but

we'll make do for now. Part of what makes

these planets so exciting is that

they're all rocky like Earth and they

all have a radius between

0.75 and 1.08 times that

of earth. Of these seven planets, e, f and g

orbit within the habitable zone. This

habitable zone is quite different from

that of our own Sun as Trappist is

significantly dimmer and less powerful.

This means that even though all seven

planets orbit closer to their star than

mercury orbits the Sun, the comparatively

mild radiation from Trappist still allows

for potential liquid water. As exciting

as that possibility is, it's important to

note these planets are suspected to be

tidally locked. When a celestial body is

tidally locked it always faces the same

direction,

much like the Earth's moon. That means

that one side of each planet receives

all the radiation from Trappist and the

other side remains in perpetual darkness.

Since Trappist-1 is so relatively

milder star, it's not yet certain whether

its planets would suffer from extreme

heat on one hemisphere and extreme cold

on the other.

However, even if that is the case, it's

thought that a proper atmosphere on any

of these planets would help dissipate

the heat and allow for a milder climate.

As fascinating as the discovery itself

is, what's equally fascinating is

considering what life would be like on a

Trappist planet.

What would it be like to stand on the

surface? One of the first things you

would notice is that the light is

significantly dimmer on Trappist planets.

Since Trappist-1 is an ultra-cool dwarf

star, most of its radiation is in the

form of infrared wavelengths rather than

visible wavelengths. According to NASA's

report, the day side of Trappist planets

would never get brighter than Earth's

skies just after sunset.

Once you got used to this perpetual

Twilight and looked out into space you

would see something remarkable. From any

given Trappist planet you would be able to

see most of your planetary neighbors

drifting across the sky and they

wouldn't be tiny specks of light like

Mars is to us. From a Trappist world you'd

be able to see the texture on your

neighbour planets, much like we can see the

craters on the moon.

Think about it, someday far into the

future residents of one planet could

look up into space and see the

crisscrossing lights civilization on

their neighbouring planet. Imagine one day

a child is born on Trappist-F. Since these

exoplanets are so close to their star it

takes in almost no time at all to

complete their orbit. That means that on

Trappist-F, little Johnny will be

celebrating his birthday every nine days!

As of right now we can't see the Trappist

planets directly to get detailed

findings on what their terrain or

atmospheres are like. Luckily with the

James Webb telescope launching in 2018

astronomers will be able to more

accurately determine the chemical makeup

of each planet's atmosphere. Newer

telescopes like the James Webb will be

able to assess the greenhouse gas

content of the atmosphere and give

scientists a better understanding of

surface conditions on the planets. The

ideal scenario would be discovering the

presence of what are referred to as bio

signatures such as methane or ozone.The

presence of such bio signatures would be

a strong indication of past or present

life. The star itself is classified as an

M-Dwarf star. This is extremely promising

for the possibility of life. An M-Dwarf

star is known for burning very slowly

and at very low temperatures, the lowest

of any other type of star.

This means that they can burn for up to

trillions of years unlike larger hotter

stars like our Sun which have a lifespan

measured in billions or tens of billions

of years.

What does that mean for the possibility

of life? Well, if Trappist-1 has been

providing warmth to its planet for such

a vast amount of time that means life

has had ample opportunity to emerge or

even develop into more complex forms. If

life is actually discovered in the

Trappist system, it bodes well for the

existence of life elsewhere in the

universe. Not only because we would have

found one example of it, but because

M-Dwarf stars are among the most plentiful

varieties of star. With billions of

M-Dwarf stars in the universe providing

warmth to billions of planets over

incalculable stretches of time, just

imagine the potential for life out there

among the stars. With the launch of the

James Webb telescope fast approaching,

we're into a very exciting next few years.

Imagine the significance of discovering

life in the Trappist-1 system. Not only

will the great question of "Are we alone?"

finally be answered, but the discoveries

we make on the Trappist planet would

dramatically increase our understanding

of habitable planets and pave the way to

greater and more frequent discoveries in

the future. Who knows, maybe the

discoveries we make in the next few

years will lead us to the greatest

discovery of all, a planet just as

suitable to life as Earth. It's all

incredibly exciting and Trappist-1 is

just the beginning.

These seven exoplanets are just a tiny

fraction of the confirmed number outside

our solar system.

Many of them are far stranger and more

exotic than the worlds of Trappist-1. You

can learn more about the amazing variety

of planets in the universe by checking

out this video by RealLifeLore where

he explores the incredible things you

could see and do it would be impossible

on earth.

Tthanks for watching and I'll see you in

the next video!

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