If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world place to travel, start packing. Astronomers just discovered seven Earth-like planets only 40 light-years away. One of those worlds, TRAPPIST-1e, might be the vacation hotspot of the future.
NASA just released a sweet new poster of TRAPPIST-1e, “voted best ‘hab zone’ vacation” and fourth planet from the ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1. What makes this planet special is that it resides in its host star’s Goldilocks zone, where conditions are most optimal for liquid surface water to form. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold — it’s just right for life.
At a NASA news conference Wednesday, Nikole Lewis, astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said that TRAPPIST-1e is “very close in size to Earth…receives about the same amount of light as Earth does.” This planet might even have temperatures similar to those of Earth.
It’s possible that all seven of these planets might have water, but TRAPPIST-1e is in the perfect zone for liquid water on the surface — one of the best indicators for potential life. Maybe extraterrestrial life has already evolved on TRAPPIST-1e, or maybe the exoplanet will become a quintessential place for us to settle or take cosmic vacations.
Besides the fact that we might be able to survive on it, TRAPPIST-1e is an ideal tourist spot because of its breathtaking views. The sky is red because TRAPPIST-1 is cooler and emits a red glow. When you’re on the planet, you’ll see radiant objects in the red sky — kind of like our moon, but actually, they’re the six other planets in the system.
Of course, to get to TRAPPIST-1e, we’d have to travel faster than the speed of light. Right now, it takes light 40 years to travel from here to that exoplanet. If we ever want to visit TRAPPIST-1e, we’re going to have to step up our speed game.