Astronomers have discovered a planet that is about the same size as Earth and is covered in volcanoes.
Scientists believe that the planet, named LP-791-18 d, has a warm atmosphere that could contain water vapor and liquid water.
This planet orbits a red dwarf star. This red dwarf star is about 90 light years away from Earth.
The area around this planet is near the edge of the habitable zone. A habitable zone is a region with moderate temperatures not too far from a star.
The discovery was made through a detailed study of data sent by NASA’s TESS satellite and images previously sent by the Spitzer Space Telescope. In addition, the data obtained from ground-based telescopes was further checked.
The new discovery was presented in the May 17 issue of Nature, a major research journal. This research paper was presented by scientists from the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx), based at the University of Montreal.
This planet is tidally locked to its parent star. This means that one side of the planet’s surface is always facing the star, and the other side is always facing away from the star.
This side always faces the star, so it always sets during the day, and the other side always sets at night.
The temperature on the day side is so hot that water cannot exist as skin. The night side is usually very cold, so the water is always hard. However, due to the volcanoes that cover the entire planet, experts believe that the temperature of the night side will not fall below the freezing point, and the water vapor in the atmosphere will condense and fall back as rain.
The planet is now thought to be only a few sizes larger than Earth.
This planet is not the only one orbiting this star. It still has planets B and C orbiting it. (Whenever we found planets orbiting a star, we named them b, c, d, etc.)
Planet b, which is closer to the star, is about 20 percent larger than Earth, and planet c, which is further away, is 2.5 times larger than Earth. c The mass of the planet is about seven times greater than the mass of the Earth.
The newly discovered d planet and the previously discovered d planets orbit the star in elliptical orbits. So the two planets often come very close to each other. Every time it gets close, due to the gravity of planet D, the surface of planet D becomes elongated, and cracks form on the surface. Hot lava seeps out of these cracks, and many volcanoes are formed.
The planet found now is at the inner edge of the habitable zone. Scientists believe that the planet would have an atmosphere due to gases released by its extensive volcanic activity.
On the night side, the temperature will drop, so water vapor can condense and fall back as rain. Therefore, water can be liquid at night.
It is reported that permission has been given to study these planets (D and C) in detail with the James Webb telescope. Scientists point out that this is an important theory to test the theory that life originated from volcanoes on Earth.