Mar 15, 2017 02:03 AM EDT
Space exploration has reached another milestone as a new planetary system is discovered by a team of Belgian scientists. But what makes this new discovery much more interesting is the name given to the newly discovered planetary system. With a touch ingenuity and maybe even playfulness, the team of five named the new planetary system TRAPPIST-1, after their favorite beer.
The discovery of TRAPPIST-1 was announced last February but to those who are unfamiliar with the origin of its name, Trappist has been mostly associated with the popular brand of monastic beer whose root stems from Belgium several centuries ago. Not only that, the same scientists also nicknamed the exoplanets outside Earth's solar system after Trappist beers like Rochefort, Westvleteren and Orval, CNN reports. It's not hard to guess what these scientists do in their spare time, right?
According to one of the scientists, Emmanuel Jehin, the name is easy to remember as it is quite particular and relating to a Belgian project. In fact, if one happens to come upon their humble offices at the University of Liège one would find exoplanet posters and Trappist beer bottles. The team uses telescopes in Chile and Morocco which can be monitored from a small control room in the university using four computers.
TRAPPIST-1 contains about seven Earth-sized planets and three of these planets can be found in the so-called 'habitable' zone which means there is a high chance that these planets can support life or had supported life before. According to a report published in The Telegraph, finding a second Earth is not a matter of 'if' but 'when.'
What's even more amazing about the team and their discovery is that TRAPPIST itself began as a prototype project and that the researchers themselves didn't really expect to find anything significant in the endlessly wide space. But as it so happened, they did not just find a new planetary system they had also taken a big step closer to discovering signs of life from some of the planets in TRAPPIST-1.
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