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If anyone lives on the planet known as Trappist-1e, they should know their neighbors pretty well. There are six other confirmed planets in the system, and they’re all packed close together. As a result, they all pass within a few million miles of planet e. And two of them pass within about half a million miles — about twice as far as the Moon is from Earth. Since the planets are all bigger than the Moon, they’d be big presences in the sky.
The big question is whether anyone is there to enjoy the view. Scans for radio signals produced by a civilization there have come up empty. And our telescopes can’t see the planet clearly enough to know just what conditions are like. Even so, Trappist-1e is considered one of the best candidate worlds for life.
The planet is in the system’s “habitable zone.” That’s the distance from the star where conditions are most comfortable for life. And the planet is a lot like Earth. It could have a fairly thick atmosphere, and perhaps even big oceans.
Life would face some challenges, though. While the planet’s parent star is quite feeble, for example, it sometimes produces big outbursts of radiation that could damage the planet’s atmosphere.
But there’s plenty of time for life to take hold on Trappist-1e. The system is already a few billion years older than the Sun. And because the star is feeble, it will shine for trillions of years more — lighting up the busy skies of Trappist-1e.
Script by Damond Benningfield