The TRAPPIST-1 system has totally entranced Earthlings since NASA announced its discovery last month. For both astronomers and tinfoil hat believers (*raises hand*), TRAPPIST-1 is a sign of hope for finding alien life, since three of its planets are located in the habitable zone which supports liquid water. With water comes life, and with life comes alien conspiracy theories—at least that’s the idea.
A new study from Manasvi Lingam and Avi Loeb at Harvard University makes the question of life in TRAPPIST-1 even more compelling: the researchers suggest that the TRAPPIST-1 planets are close enough to each other that microbes could travel from one world to another, via rocks. According to the team’s hypothesis, when an object collides with a TRAPPIST-1 planet, it will send material into space, which could wind up on a neighboring planet. This idea of traveling life is known as the theory of panspermia, and some scientists have suggested that life on Earth could have started in this way—by microbes from Mars hitchhiking their way to Earth after a large impact.