Once we determine that, we’ll better understand what the Trappist planets can tell usby Philip Ball / March 3, 2017 / Leave a comment
Amid all the excitement surrounding the seven Earth-like planets discovered around the pint-sized star Trappist-1 in the constellation of Aquarius, it seems surprising that there’s scant mention of how old the stellar system is. The estimate is upward of 500 million years, and it’s worth noting because, if a paper just published in Nature is correct, that’s about as long as it took for life to get started after the Earth formed.
The new work, from an international team led by Matthew Dodd and Dominic Papineau of University College London, describes structures found in Canadian rocks that they interpret as fossils of microorganisms. If that’s so, it would be possibly the earliest evidence for life on the planet: the rocks are known to be between 3770 and 4280 million years old, while our planet itself is thought to have formed about 4600 million years ago.