Since two weeks ago an international group of scientists announced the discovery of a solar system with seven planets like Earth, we had seen only artistic recreations and even promotional posters of imaginary tourist trips to those new worlds. Now NASA shows us a real and moving images of the star of this system, Trappist-1, thanks to its Kepler space telescope.
The animation shows the amount of light detected by each pixel in a small section of the camera aboard the Kepler space telescope, according to NASA. As its sun is 40 light years, those subtle flashes that capture the space telescope left the star towards us more or less when Real Madrid signed Juanito and Jimmy Carter moved to the White House. Or as NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, of whom he put the Curiosity robot on Mars, said on Twitter, "It's weird to think of where one was when the light began its journey (it was not alive)."
The Trappist-1 light, a faint, cold star of the so- called red dwarfs
, is the lightest point in the
center of the image. For Kepler , however, the seven Earth-sized planets
orbiting around it were not directly visible. What Kepler captures are the
small oscillations in the brightness of the star when their planets intersect
with the telescope's vision, causing oscillations in their intensity.
The planets in transit, when crossed between the star and the observer - Kepler in this case, block a small fraction of the starlight that produces tiny distortions in the brightness of its star. The telescopes capture these distortions
planets of other solar systems, with the denominated method of transits, the
most successful at the moment for the search of new worlds. Kepler himself
suddenly revealed in 2011 more than 1,200 candidate exoplanets using this
technique . As it is a much more compact solar system than ours, the Trappist-1
planets very often cross in front of their star, providing many readings to
astronomers. As NASA explains,
Since the announcement of the possible existence of three planets in the Trappist-1 system (which would eventually be seven) has been announced in May 2016, the Kepler Space Telescope began to prepare to revise that corner of the sky thanks to the K2 mission. As shown by the tweet of the astronomer Ethan Kruse
, thanks to this,
these 79 days of observation of this system, so heavily populated by land, were
achieved between December 15, 2016 and the first days of March this year. The
most luminous images correspond to February 22, with which the video was made.
NASA has also made the raw data available to amateur scientists and astronomers
so they can work with them.