Belgium: Astronomers name planetary system after beer

Trappist is not only the name of a beer type but also the name of a system of seven earth-size planets, which is according to some NASA experts the “most exciting discovery” for years.  A team of five Belgian scientists at the University of Liège led by Dr. Michaël Gillon detected the planets using a robotic telescope in Chile named Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST). The acronym of TRAPPIST underscores the Belgian origins of the project, referring to the  contemplative Roman Catholic religious order of Trappists and their famous beer, which was also used by the astronomers to celebrate their discovery. Since the star hosted the first exoplanets discovered by this telescope, the discoverers accordingly designated it as TRAPPIST-1.

Three of the planets sit in the habitable zone of their star, making it possible they could support liquid water on the surface and sustain life. "We still don't know if these are habitable," Gillon says. "We don't know what to expect, but we have plenty of theories. But as I say, theories are often wrong. We will have plenty of surprises in the coming years."

And probably every positive surprise will again be celebrated with some Belgium trappist beer.


About trappist beer:

Today, eleven Trappist breweries are active — six in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, and one each in Austria, Italy and the United States. In 1997, eight Trappist abbeys founded the International Trappist Association (ITA) to prevent non-Trappist commercial companies from abusing the Trappist name.

In order to meet the criteria
a) the beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
b) the brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life and
c) the brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.

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