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Welcome, TRAPPIST-1

TRAPPIST-1

Photo via NASA.gov

Welcome, TRAPPIST-1!

TRAPPIST-1: The Discovery

One week ago, astronomers from NASA and Europe made a groundbreaking discovery. This discovery will forever alter the way that we view space and time. 

Last Wednesday, NASA announced the discovery of seven Earth sized planets orbiting a dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1. The system of exoplanets is only 39.5 light years away. Given the vastness of the universe, this is a relatively short distance. 

The TRAPPIST-1 discovery is historical because it’s the first known instance of a system of seven Earth sized planets revolving around a single star other than our very own system. The Spitzer Space Telescope, which is currently over 235 million kilometers away from Earth, discovered the planets. Because of the orientation of the planets and their star, scientists are able to effectively observe the characteristics of TRAPPIST-1.

Why it’s so exciting?

Again, this discovery is absolutely groundbreaking because it is the first of its kind. According to scientist, what’s particularly exciting about this finding is the planets have the potential to form and hold water. Even more exciting, this finding means they have the potential to host life!

The star that the seven planets orbit is a red dwarf, meaning it’s ‘ultracool’, or under 2,550 kelvin. This makes it significantly cooler than our own sun, which is about 5,778 kelvin. Because of the stars cool nature and the placement of the planets, the possibility of the closer planets retaining liquid water is strong.

The TRAPPIST-1 discovery is raising a lot of speculation and excitement about the possibility of life outside Earth.

Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported to the New York Times, “For the first time ever, we don’t have to speculate. We just have to wait and then make very careful observations and see what is in the atmospheres of the Trappist planets.”

Is there life outside of our planet? Only time will tell!

Now what?

This discovery opens the door to so many questions! Is there water? How could we tell if there is life? The possibilities are endless!

Currently, NASA reports that the geography of the planets is rocky. Scientists will continue to observe the exoplanets in order to deduce if liquid water actually exists on the planets.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope will begin to screen at least four of the planets in order to determine the atmospheric composition of the planets and learn if they consist of hydrogen.

In 2018, NASA’s James Webb Telescope will further assist scientists in exploring the makeup of these planets. This telescope will have technology that can enable scientists to determine properties of the planets including the presence of water, methane, and oxygen!

Dear TRAPPIST-1, Earth welcomes you!

Pokemon Go Controversy

Attention all 20-30 year olds: the card game you grew up loving is now available on your smartphone. Pokemon has gotten a make-over and people are going crazy over it.

Released on July 6 Pokemon Go has adults reliving their childhood, but at what cost. Since the games’ release, there have been a number of attacks and peculiar incidents. On July 14, two North San Diego County men fell off a bluff while playing the game. One of the men fell nearly 50 feet and was knocked unconscious while the other fell 75-100 feet, said Battalion Chief Robbie Ford of the Encinitas Fire Department. Both men suffered moderate injuries and were taken to area trauma centers.

Pokemon Go Take Over

Further north, in Anaheim, a player was stabbed by a group of men in a park. The victim who is in his 20s, was playing the game around 12:30 am when he encountered a group of men. Anaheim police sergeant Luis Correa said five to six men, ranging in age from teens to 20s, attacked the man and stabbed him several times. The motive for the attack is still unclear, however the group did not lure the victim into the park. The man had non-life threatening injuries.

The bizarre incidences don’t stop there. Pokemon Go users have also been robbed and carjacked while out playing the game.

People need to realize their lives are not worth catching a fictional character. To those who wish to relive a game that they once held dear to their heart I say catch em’ all, but please be careful! The game leaves people unknowingly vulnerable and in harms way. Just today I was driving through my town and saw a man barely miss being hit by a car all because he was trying to catch a Pokemon. I understand it’s an exciting blast from the past, but be sure to always be aware of your surroundings when playing.

The app has taken a couple of steps to help prevent the above scenarios with their latest updates, which include safety warnings.

Ferguson Verdict Causes Unrest Across Nation

On November 24, 2014, a St. Louis, Missouri grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, causing unrest throughout the country. The 12-person grand jury met in secret over the past months to decide the fate of Wilson, a white police officer, who fatally shot Brown, an 18-year-old black teenager – which has been a racial hot topic for over 100 days.

 Before the verdict was announced, officials and Brown’s family asked that protestors across the nation stay peaceful.

 “Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction,” said Michael Brown’s family.

 Although protesters were urged to remain nonviolent this did not happen. Not long after the decision was announced, crowds of protestors stormed the streets of Ferguson. Protestors showed their disappointment and anger towards the decision by lighting police cars on fire and vandalizing and looting local businesses. The protests weren’t confined to Ferguson, but were also found in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Oakland – among other cities throughout the United States.

 In Los Angeles, protestors marched throughout the city and shut down the 10 Freeway. In Oakland, protests turned violent and police officers were attacked. Several cities are staging walkouts and “die-ins”, blocking streets to show solidarity with Ferguson.

 People across the globe are supporting the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” movement through pictures and protests.