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Drew Ex Machina

Alien Skies: The View from TRAPPIST-1e

18 Apr 2018, 13:17 UTC
Alien Skies: The View from TRAPPIST-1e via Drew Ex Machina

Science fiction stories in movies and television set on other worlds frequently present views of spectacular arrangements of moons, looming giant planets and multiple suns of the sort we do not see in our sky here on Earth. Here we have but a single large moon and a single sun with the planets visible as nothing more than bright points of light that slowly move over time against the stars. But with the discovery of extrasolar planets starting over two decades ago, we are beginning to find exoplanets whose skies are potentially much more interesting than ours and begin to resemble those of fictional worlds we have imagined for decades.

Probably one of the more interesting systems among our nearby stellar neighbors is that of TRAPPIST-1 which has seven known Earth-size exoplanets. Unlike here on Earth where the planets are mere points of light, these exoplanets would appear as distinct disks when viewed from any one of these worlds which would change in size, phase and position on time scales of a many days to just a matter of hours owing to their tight, short-period orbits. So what would some far-future human visitor see in the skies of the worlds of TRAPPIST-1?

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