This video depicts artist’s concepts of each of the seven planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star. Over 21 days, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope measured the drop in light as each planet passed in front of the star. Spitzer was able to identify a total of seven rocky worlds, including three in the habitable zone where life is possible. The study established the planets’ size, distance from their sun and, for some of them, their approximate mass and density. It also established that some, if not all, these planets are tidally locked, meaning one face of the planet permanently faces their sun.
The planets appear in the order of innermost to outermost planets.
These artist’s concepts were designed as follows: TRAPPIST-1b, closest to the star, was modeled on Jupiter’s moon Io, which has volcanic features due to strong gravitational tugs. TRAPPIST-1c is shown as a rocky, warm world with a small ice cap on the side that never faces the star. TRAPPSIT-1d is rocky and has water only in a thin band along the terminator, dividing the day side and night side.
TRAPPIST-1e and TRAPPIST-1f are both shown covered in water, but with progressively larger ice caps on the night side. TRAPPIST-1g is portrayed with an atmosphere like Neptune’s, although it is still a rocky world. The farthest planet, TRAPPIST-1h, is shown as covered in ice, similar to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.
The background stars are what you would see if you were in the TRAPPIST-1 system. Orion passes behind the planets, recognizable but distorted from what we’re familiar with, in addition to Taurus and Pleiades.
For more information about Spitzer & TRAPPIST-1, visit http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/trappist-1