The star system TRAPPIST-1, located 39 light years away, has completely captured the imagination of the public over the past 24 hours, thanks to the discovery of seven Earth-scale planets in orbit around the small red dwarf star.
On Twitter, many people shared their hopes of one day traveling to the TRAPPIST-1 system to behold its wealth of terrestrial planets up close.
In the meantime, scientists and artists have collaborated on stunning concept animations so that we can, at least, get some sense of what it might be like to embark on an adventure to this tantalizing star system.
The animations are based on information captured by specialized telescopes as the TRAPPIST-1 planets crossed in front of their star from our perspective on Earth.
These transits cause the star to dim slightly, and that tiny dip in brightness helps scientists estimate planetary size, orbital distance, and even glean some details about the planets’ atmospheres.
Finally, for those who want to experience what it might be like to actually set foot on one of these planets, NASA has released a virtual reality concept animation set on TRAPPIST-1d, which may have liquid water on its surface.
Its sibling planets orbit so tightly around their host star that they are plainly visible in the skies, against the wider backdrop of stars beyond the system-including our Sun.