Latest Look at TRAPPIST-1 Planet Raises Concerns of Star 'Contamination'

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Earlier this year, the James Webb Space Telescope dashed hopes for life on one of the most Earth-like exoplanets discovered in the Milky Way.

United States News, United States Headlines

That finding, made using mid-infrared photometric observations, wasn't an unexpected one, however; the research was more about making a close study of a smaller, rocky world at cooler temperatures than we usually do.

TRAPPIST-1b is still uninhabitable to life as we know it, mind you. But the discovery, led by astronomer Olivia Lim of the University of Montreal, suggests that stellar contamination could produce false detections of molecules that aren't related to the exoplanet.NASA, ESA, CSA, J. Olmsted/STScI, T. P. Greene/NASA Ames, T. Bell/BAERI, E. Ducrot & P. Lagage/CEA"Our observations did not see signs of an atmosphere around TRAPPIST-1 b.

Scientists can look for changes in the spectrum of light when the exoplanet transits, and use those changes to hunt for the signatures of molecules absorbing and re-emitting specific wavelengths of light.

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