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STScI Webcast

2017 Spring Science Colloquia

TRAPPIST-1: Beyond Imagination

Presented by: Nikole Lewis (STSCI)
Category: Science Colloquia   Duration: 1 hour   Broadcast date: May 10, 2017
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The past year has seen a bumper crop of Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, targets ripe for exoplanet characterization studies. The seven planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, located 12 pc from our solar system, represent the largest number of Earth-sized planets orbiting a single star to date. Three of the TRAPPIST-1 planets reside in the traditional habitable zone of their host star. Perhaps more importantly, the TRAPPIST-1 planets all transit their host star as seen from Earth, which enables observational constraints on their bulk composition and atmospheric properties. Here I will discuss the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system and our current efforts to characterize these planets utilizing a wide range of observational, theoretical, and experimental tools. I will also discuss the potential for characterization of small (less than 1.6 Earth radii) temperate exoplanets, such those in the TRAPPIST-1 and the newly announced LHS 1140 systems, leveraging the combined power of Hubble and Webb. By spearheading continued observational, theoretical, and experimental efforts aimed at understanding the potential diversity of exoplanets, I am working to bring us one step closer to answering the question ‘Are We Alone?’.