Pacific Science Center

Bringing science to life.

PacSci-Doku: “Earth-Like Worlds”

By Dennis Schatz – Senior Advisor

Do you Sudoku? It’s one of the hottest number games around! Well, here’s a twist we think you’ll love. We call it PacSci-Doku. Can you guess why? Here’s how it works. Instead of filling in the blanks with numbers, we use letters. Hidden in one of the columns or rows is the answer to a science question. You’ll find information about the answer on the answer tab below.

The question in this edition is:

What star was recently discovered to have 7 Earth-sized planets orbiting around it?

To find the answer, complete this PacSci-Doku using the following nine letters:

A  i  1  R  T  t  s  P  p

PacSci-Doku: Earth-Like Worlds

The Puzzle

Puzzle Difficulty: Medium

The Answer
PacSci-Doku: Earth-Like Worlds Answer

The Solution

The question in this edition is:

What star was recently discovered to have 7 Earth-sized planets orbiting around it?

The answer: Trappist 1

Astronomers have now confirmed that seven Earth-sized planets orbit the star Trappist 1, a star 40 light years away and only 1/12th the mass of our Sun. The planets all circle close to the star, resulting in much shorter orbital periods. The inner most planet makes it once around the star in 1.5 days, while the one farthest out takes 20 days. Another difference from our Solar System is that the temperature of Trappist 1, which is only 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the Sun’s 10,000 degrees. Being so close to the star means the planets are likely to be gravitationally locked, so that one side of the planets always faces the star – much like what has happened between Mercury and the Sun. Even with these unusual conditions, some of the planets may exist at distances where any water on the planets could be a liquid, and therefore support life. The next step is for astronomers to aim telescopes at the collection of planets to determine what gases exist in the planets’ atmospheres, which may indicate whether or not they could support life. Learn more about Trappist 1 and its family of plants.

 

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