Scientists have detected a distant, Earth-sized exoplanet displaying signs of extraordinary volcanic activity. Named LP 791-18 d, this celestial body resides outside our solar system, offering tantalizing hints of its environment and potential for water.
Scientists have discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet named LP 791-18 d, orbiting a star 86 light-years away in our Milky Way. The celestial body showcases unique traits such as a volcanic surface and the possibility of containing water. This groundbreaking discovery, made possible through the use of NASA’s TESS and the retired Spitzer Space Telescope, opens new frontiers in the study of exoplanets.
A Distant World Revealed
Delving into the vast expanse of the cosmos, astronomers have uncovered an intriguing exoplanet named LP 791-18 d. This planet, discovered while studying a dim star already hosting two larger planets, has been estimated to be about 86 light-years away from our own solar system.
A Dance of Gravitational Forces
Interestingly, the presence of LP 791-18 d was not visually confirmed. Instead, scientists observed the planet’s interaction with another larger body orbiting the same star. This larger planet exerts a significant gravitational pull, causing LP 791-18 d to deform with each orbit, akin to Io, Jupiter’s moon – the most volcanically active body in our solar system.
Water on a Volcanic Planet?
Despite the planet’s intense volcanic activity, scientists also suggest that it may contain water. Being tidally locked, LP 791-18 d has one side in perpetual daylight and the other in endless night, which may allow for water condensation.
An Atmosphere in the Making
The research team believes that the pervasive volcanic activity on LP 791-18 d could support an atmosphere, which could in turn enable water to condense on the night side of the planet.
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One of the larger planets in the vicinity of LP 791-18 d has been approved for further study using the James Webb Space Telescope. With its unique characteristics, LP 791-18 d itself could also be an exceptional candidate for atmospheric studies, potentially contributing significantly to our understanding of exoplanets.