The recent discovery of new planets around the star TRAPPIST-1 happened by observations from 7 ground-based telescopes, as well as the Spitzer Space Telescope. The team of astronomers responsible has noted that there are many relevant parameters which still have large uncertainties, including orbital information and planetary mass. There's also some excitement about possible atmospheric composition.

Are there any definite planned future observations of the system? I assume that at some point it will be targeted by the James Webb Space Telescope, but that won't launch for another year and a half, and it has plenty of other targets.

I'm not looking for detailed information - I know that cannot be easily gathered - but if there are any general mentions, like this one about the Subaru Telescope and Planet Nine, that would be fantastic.

  • $\begingroup$ Proposals to use telescopes are not public information. Not clear what information you are looking for. Of course most large telescopes on the ground and space have been and will be staring at this object. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Feb 24 '17 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @RobJeffries I'm not sure what you mean. Detailed information is usually not available, but there are plenty of cases where it has at least been indicated that the instrument will be used; this was the case with the Subaru telescope and Planet Nine. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Feb 24 '17 at 15:02

A website trappist.one has been created to detail information about this discovery. In the "Future" section, they specifically state:

In the short term, photometric follow-up using the repurposed Kepler satellite (named K2) along with with newer observations using Spitzer ought to reveal the period of planet 1h. We will also search for additional planets. Theses lightcurves, combined with ground-based measurements will increase the number of transit timing measurements for each of the planets. This will give us more accurate masses and orbital eccentricities. This will confirm whether the planets are mostly rocky or whether they contain a certain amount of volatiles, like water.

In the medium term, we can expect the first attempts at detecting the atmospheres of the TRAPPIST-1 planets, using Hubble, followed by deeper investigations thanks to the James Webb. The James Webb could in principle measure the temperature of the planets, and detect the chemical composition of their atmospheres. It will do so by collecting dozens of eclipses of the TRAPPIST-1 planets. The advantage of having seven planets in one system is that we will be able to compare them to one another.

It seems they're currently using Kepler and Spitzer and plan to use Hubble in the near future as well as JWST after it launches.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ I would have thought that something with $V=18.8$ would be a struggle with K2. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Feb 25 '17 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ NASA's K2 mission is currently observing Trappist-1 and the data will be released to the public on March-5 $\endgroup$ – AstronomyGeek Mar 1 '17 at 10:14

The video shared by NASA specifically mentions that JWST will be used to observe the TRAPPIST 1 system. Infact that's going to be one of the prime targets.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ I'm looking for something a bit more specific than this. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Mar 28 '17 at 0:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.