The floor is lava: Super-Earth shines with molten lava squeezed out by exoplanet neighbors science news


Scientists have discovered a lava world where tidal action is causing extreme volcanism on a nearby exoplanet. Until now, exoplanetary researchers have not focused so much on tidal effects. New findings could potentially change this.

HD 104067 is a molten exoplanet. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Dani Player).

New Delhi: The researchers were investigating a star system called HD 104067, which was known to harbor a giant planet. The system was observed by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission that launched in 2018 and observes parts of the sky to detect the degradation of light as a planet passes its host star. Passes in front, known as transit.

These transits are recorded as light curves, which plot the intensity of light from a particular source over time. Periodic dips in brightness can tell astronomers how much larger a planet is than its host star, how far away it orbits, and what its likely composition is. TESS discovered evidence of another rocky planet within HD 104067, with the observations revealing another area under investigation. The system is now known to host three worlds.

The newly discovered exoplanet is a super-Earth, which is larger than Earth, smaller than Neptune and has a rocky composition. The atmosphere on this super-Earth is more similar to that of Io, the volcanic moon in orbit around Jupiter, rather than our own Earth. Scientists estimate the exoplanet's surface temperature to be about 2326 degrees Celsius, hotter than the surfaces of some stars.

just like ayo

Like Io, gravitational forces are responsible for the extreme volcanism on the exoplanet. Io is in a close orbit around Jupiter, with other moons forcing Io into an elliptical or eccentric orbit around the gas giant, which itself has an extremely powerful gravitational well. Without other moons, Io would have been in a circular orbit around Jupiter, and lava from its interior would not have been constantly squeezed out by tidal forces.

The other two planets in HD 104067 are at much greater distances from the host star than the newly discovered lava planet. These outer planets have also pushed the lava planet into an eccentric orbit. This exoplanet is constantly being squeezed by the host star. Researchers hope to further measure the mass and density of the exoplanet.

A paper describing the findings has been published astronomical journal, “This is a terrestrial planet that I would describe as Io on steroids,” says Stephen Kane, first author of the study. It has been forced into a situation where it is experiencing continuous volcanic eruptions. At optical wavelengths you will be able to see a glowing, red-hot planet with a molten lava surface.


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