A super-hot super-Earth spotted 40 light-years away

For 2 years period of time, scientists have discovered a life-threatening planet where the atmospheric temperature ranges from 1,800-4900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Astronomers are still undecided on what might be responsible for these extreme shifts in temperature. However, they have a study suggesting that the massive volcanoes on the surface of the planet may be blamable.

According to Brice-Olivier Demory of the University of Cambridge in a report, “While we can’t be entirely sure, we think a likely explanation for this variability is large-scale surface activity, possibly volcanism.”

Demory is known to be the lead author of a paper that describes how the gas and dust in gigantic volcanic clouds might at times blanket the planets’ thermal emission as seen from the Earth which makes its atmosphere can be seen cooler to our telescopes.

The research study was printed last Monday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The extreme planet is named as 55 Cancri E. It is believed to be a super-Earth because it is both rocky and two to ten times the size of our own planet Earth. The 55 Cancri E is two times the diameter of the Earth and eight times the Earth’s mass. It is known that the new planet is tidally sealed with its own star signifying that it has one side that remains in everlasting day and everlasting night on the other side. Beyond our solar system, it was the great discovery in 2004 and was the first ever rocky planet to be seen. Ever since, all known exoplanets were gas giants easily spotted due to their massive size which are about 300 times larger than the Earth. In addition, it positioned awkwardly near to its host star (by our standards) and it completes its single orbit around its sun in 18 days only.

The researchers said that the superficial shell of the planet 55 Cancri E is more likely entirely weak, if not molten. As they say, it’s due to the hotness even during the cooler days which could lead to the formation of magma oceans and volcanic activity. But still, it will take more while, more researches, and potentially more delicate equipment to certainly identify what is really happening.

Nikki Madhusudhan of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, one of the authors of the study, verbalized, “The present variability is something we’ve never seen anywhere else, so there’s no robust conventional explanation.”


Source: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-volcanoes-on-a-super-earth-20150504-story.html



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