An Earth that replaces hail and has a lava-filled ocean may seem like it is in a science fiction movie, but it̵7;s true. In 2018, astronomers discovered the exoplanet K2-141b, and scientists have just published a study that reveals some of its extreme conditions.
While K2-141b is the size of Earth, it couldn’t be any more different. This exoplanet is considered a lava planet due to its proximity to an orange dwarf star. All the lava planets are so hot that some regions are likely to have oceans of lava. But what makes K2-141b unusual are the other weather conditions discovered by researchers from McGill University, York University and the Indian Institute of Science Education.
As an alien planet whose surface, ocean, and atmosphere are all made up of rock, one can only imagine the weather. Using computer simulation, the researchers came up with a number of interesting conclusions. It appears that two-thirds of the planet faces constant daylight, this is due to the fact that it is gravitationally locked due to its proximity to the dwarf star.
When displaying extremely high contrast, the night side has a temperature of -200 ° C (-328 ° F), while the daytime side is 3000 ° C shocking. That’s hot enough to not only melt the ice, but evaporate them as well. In fact, it is this slightly thin layer that makes up the atmosphere.
This vapor then turns into precipitation, like the water cycle we find on Earth. On K2-141b, rocky steam is swept into the night side of the planet by high winds. It then poured rain into the lava oceans before the current brought it back into the daytime. At that point, it evaporates and the cycle starts again. Slowly, over time, this cycle will change the shape of the planet.
“All the rocky planets, including the Earth, started out as a molten world but then quickly cooled down and solidified. Professor Nicolas Cowan of the Department of Earth and Planetary Science said the lava planets give us a rare glimpse into this planetary evolutionary phase.
The team is currently working to validate their predictions using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which will provide temperature information on both sides of the planet. When the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021, they will be able to verify their prediction about the atmospheric cycle of K2-141b.
h / t: [CBS News]
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