Monday, May 16, 2016 10:23 pm
Michael Gillon, Leader of a research team from University of Liege, said they have discovered three planets orbiting around a nearby dwarf star known as Trappist 1.
They said on Monday in Brussels that this was the outcome of a research project they started five years ago.
The Belgian scientists disclosed that as the size and temperatures of the three “red worlds” were comparable to Earth and other planets from our Solar System, it could be the best place to find life.
Michael Gillon, associate researcher at the University of Liege, said they were looking for planets that could have on their surfaces the conditions like on earth and may host life.
He said the study showed that two of the researched planets have orbital periods of about 1.5 days and 2.4 days, respectively, while the orbiting time of the third one is around 10 days.
Gillon said the scientists are already preparing the next phase which would be the most interesting.
“It is the James Webb space telescope, which is a very big space telescope that will be launching in 2018, so two years from now and with this telescope we will be able to study atmosphere.
“So, currently we are trying to measure the masses of the planet,” he said.
Gillon said his team cooperated with international researchers from the U.S. and Britain.
He said the international researchers mainly work through the internet system connected to one of the prototype telescope based in Chile.
Gillon said to detect potentially habitable planets, researchers use a so-called transit method.
He said they observed specific stars and try to catch the planet that passed in front of them.
“We made this programme on our small robotic telescope Trappist which is in Chile as a prototype for our more ambitious project which is called `Speculoos’.
“It will use bigger telescopes with more sensitive instruments to explore more,” he said.
Gillon said with the current Trappist telescope, scientists were able to observe only 60 targets, and with Speculoos the scope would be wider, up to 500 objects.