Magazine
Latest Issue

How old is life on Earth?

Once we determine that, we’ll better understand what the Trappist planets can tell us

By Philip Ball  

This illustration shows the seven planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, and ultra-cool dwarf star, as they might look as viewed from Earth using a fictional, incredibly powerful telescope. Credits: NASA-JPL/Caltech

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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect