TRAPPIST-1 Might Be Home To Planet-Hopping Aliens
Now, some researchers are suggesting that if life has indeed developed on one of the newly-discovered habitable worlds, there's a really good chance that there's probably life on all three of them. This is the longest, almost continuous set of observations of TRAPPIST-1 yet, and provides researchers with an opportunity to further study the gravitational interaction between the seven planets, and search for planets that may remain undiscovered in the system. What this means is, extraterrestrial life may have been seeded multiple planets over time, allowing them to inhabit each one and even evolve individually over time.
Comparison between the Solar and Trappist-1 systems. The planets orbiting Trappist-1 are also very close to their star and each other.
But what TRAPPIST-1 look like?
"During the transfer between one to another, microbes and living organisms survive the harsh conditions of space", coauthor Avi Loeb, an astronomer at Harvard University, tells Inverse. They found that between the habitable planets, the likelihood of transfer of life is 1000 times greater than between Earth and Mars, since the planets are tidally locked in a tightly stacked orbit around their star. The researchers suggest that since the planets are close enough, object collision could send materials into space that later on falls into the neighboring planet. Kepler studied the TRAPPIST-1 system in early 2016, but scientists did not immediately see evidence of the seven planets. "All we're saying in this paper is that if life exists on one planet, it's likely that it exists on another planet in the system". The microbes' island hopping pattern is called "panspermia".
The Kepler mission collected data on the star's minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets and according to the mission team this raw and uncalibrated data will enable astronomers prepare proposals due this month to use telescopes on Earth next winter to further investigate TRAPPIST-1.
Prof Loeb went on to say that the likelihood of this happening is high, based on models of how life has been transported between islands on Earth.