Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


TRAPPIST-1 is a system of seven Earth-sized worlds orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star about forty light-years away. The IRAC camera on Spitzer was used to help discover these seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the star, at least three of them lying in the star's habitable zone


The path of a light beam is bent by the presence of mass, as explained by General Relativity. A massive body can therefore act like a lens - a so called "gravitational lens" – to distort the image of an object seen behind it.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a "research institute" of the Smithsonian Institution. It is joined with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Because these research activities share Harvard and Smithsonian staff and resources, the links at this website will take you to information posted on the "CfA" pages.