Monthly Archives: February 2017

Seven Planets Found in Red Dwarf System

NASA made a big announcement this week about new exoplanets found orbiting the dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 some 39 light years away.  I’ve discussed this particular dwarf star system before (1), as it was already known to have three terrestrial planets in attendance orbiting very close to this cool, fairly dim star (2,3).  The dwarf star is approximately one tenth the size of the Sun, and it’s mass places it on the border between a brown dwarf and a red dwarf star.  Unusually for a star this small, TRAPPIST-1 has a high metallicity, which actually exceeds that of the Sun (4).

Now, an international team of astronomers, using the Belgian TRAPPIST telescope in Chile and the Spitzer infra-red space telescope, have released details about a further four terrestrial planets in this mini-star system, three of which (e, f and g) are located within it’s habitable zone, where temperatures favour the presence of liquid water (5):

“Researchers led by Michaël Gillon, of the University of Liège in Belgium, have been studying the infrared light emitted by this miniature star and have detected drops in luminosity characteristic of transits, i.e. the passage of astronomical bodies moving across its face.  As early as 2015, the first three planets (dubbed b, c and d) had been identified.  Tracking the system using TRAPPIST and the space telescope Spitzer, the team was then able to identify four others planets (e, f, g and h) in 2016.  Based on the frequency of these transits and the degree of reduction in luminosity of the star, they have demonstrated that these seven planets are all comparable in size to Earth (to within 15%), and orbit very close to their star.” (6)

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Book review: ‘Immortality of the Gods’ by Nick Redfern

Subtitled “Legends, Mysteries, and the Alien Connection to Eternal Life”

New Page Books, 2017

ISBN 978-1-63265-075-7

$16.99/£13.99

Is it so ridiculous to imagine that our ancestors were visited by hyper-advanced beings from space?  It would be entirely natural for them to consider such beings to be gods.  It’s not just the ‘magical’ technology on view, their level of knowledge, or their awe-inspiring presence.  Perhaps these visitors were indeed effectively immortal.  In the last decade or so, futurists have begun to seriously consider a world where aging is eradicated – or at least seriously curtailed.  Gene therapy, cloning, stem cell research, advances in medicine – potentially a potent brew of treatments which might, together, offer a fabled fountain of youth to Humanity. 

As Nick Redfern argues in his latest book about the ancient gods and their alien connection, if interstellar space-farers were just a few centuries more advanced technologically than us, then it is quite reasonable to imagine that they had already cracked aging.  Indeed, one might even add that extending lifetimes considerably would be a mandatory requirement to interstellar exploration, given the timescales involved.  In other words, the very presence of spacecraft in our ancient skies millennia ago implies that the pilots are effectively immortal. 

But … we’re jumping ahead of ourselves.  Firstly, what of the evidence for such a contentious claim?

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