The Internet is full of people these days hoping we’ll go planet hopping to other solar systems one day. After all, our own sun will eventually die and all life on Earth will die. That is inevitable. Can we save ourselves by moving to another solar system?
Here Matthew Cliffard, an expert in the field, addresses this question.
It wouldn’t even be remotely possible ten generations later – as sad as that sounded.
The star system that resembles the structure of our own Solar System the most and harbouring planets that might be able to host life, at the moment, is TRAPPIST-1. And we’re not even sure whether these planets have what it takes for us to live on them comfortably or with a reasonable amount of time investment i.e. Terraforming.
Other than TRAPPIST-1, which is approximately 40 light years from Earth, we’ve never found any star system that’s remotely close to this organisation like what we found here, and that’s why people kicked up a tornado of fuss when the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile stumbled upon it in 2015 – and later on in 2017 with the works of NASA and their arrays of powerful telescopes, we found four additional planets to the system other than the three initially found.
Now as I said – that’s the most potential place for us to find a new home at, and it’s 40 light years away.
That’s 378,400,000,000,000,000 kilometers.
The fastest man-made space craft in human history for the moment is the Juno spacecraft when it slingshot around Jupiter, accelerating to a speed of almost 40.3 km/s (25 mi/s).
But how long would it take for Juno to reach TRAPPIST-1 if it was sent toward the system?
Not much, just… 298 millions years.
Earth was still inhabited by dinosaurs 298 millions years ago, and it wasn’t until 46 millions years later that the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event (THE GREAT DYING!) occurred.
So maybe ten generations is infinitesimally low number, probably thousands of generations later would we see the day.