Astronomers name momentous planetary discovery after beer


By now, you may have heard that NASA announced it had found seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a nearby star, TRAPPIST-1, in February.

Considering the fact that three of these newly discovered exoplanets, located a brisk 40 light-years away from Earth, may contain liquid water and appear to be warm enough to sustain life, the discovery is kind of a big deal.

As scientists sometimes to do after making important discoveries, the Belgian astronomers who found TRAPPIST-1 and its orbiting bodies decided to name each exoplanet after something of historically great importance: beer.

Each of TRAPPIST-1's seven exoplanets was given a nickname coinciding with a Trappist brewery, taking on names like Rochefort, Orval and Westvleteren.

What constitutes a Trappist brewery, you ask?

A Trappist brewery must be located within the walls of a Trappist monastery, and the beer must be brewed either by the resident monks themselves or under their supervision, according to CNN.

Further, the brewery cannot be a profit-making venture. Income is solely meant covers living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds, and whatever profit is left over must be donated to charity.

There are only 11 of these special breweries in the entire world, and, surprise -- over half of them are located in Belgium.

Trappist brewery Orval's managing director provided a comparison between the breweries and the exoplanets, saying: "For brewers the most important thing is if that they find water, because without water we cannot make beer. If they find water it is a very important thing for our brewers."

How poetic.

Learn more about TRAPPIST-1: