BEACON TRANSCRIPT – NASA used its Kepler Space Telescope to capture an image of the newly discovered star system Trappist 1. The image shows the star as a pale white dot shimmering brightness around it. Such photos perfectly show how vast the universe is and how small and insignificant the planets are.
The image captured by the Kepler Space Telescope presents a bunch of pixels, where the white dot in the center represents the Trappist 1 star. It shows how the brightness around the red dwarf star changes as planets pass in front of it.
NASA explained that the image captured by the telescope was called a target pixel file. It covered 44 square arcseconds of the sky, or 11 square pixels. Such an area represents the size of a grain of sand held against the sky.
The astronomers have certain algorithms that they use to account for the changing in the brightness of the star and to correct possible movements of the spacecraft, which led to the flickering of the pixels in the images.
NASA launched the Kepler Space Telescope in 2009. Until now, it has found around 3,500 exoplanets and 578 planet systems. During the K2 mission Campaign 12, the astronomers studied the Trappist 1 star system. The mission targeted the study of the system for 74 days, between December 15th and March 4th.
The astronomers revealed that they set the field of observation when they discovered the first planets that were orbiting around Trappist 1. The community of scientists involved in the study have already proposed different targets that they should be focusing on in that particular field.
Trappist 1 is the first star system that contains sevens planets resembling our Earth. Three of these planets are situated in the habitable zone of the star. This zone is characterized by the optimal temperature which allows the existence of liquid water.
The astronomers announced the discovery of the star system last month. They used the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) during the discovery, as well as the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
NASA announced that they would perform a more detailed research of the Trappist 1 star system, starting 2018, when they launch the James Webb Telescope.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons