Astronomers have found an exoplanet 400 light years from Earth that has a similar density to our own planet, but is orbiting a hundredth of the distance from its host star, making it hot molten lava.
Astronomers have found an exoplanet 400 light years from Earth that has a similar density to our own planet, but is orbiting a hundredth of our Sun and Earth’s distance to its host star.
Researchers identified the exoplanet, known as Kepler 78b, as a twin planet to Earth in terms of being composed of rock and iron , but because it is so close to the star it is orbiting, astronomers theorize that the molten exoplanet always has one side facing the star and one side facing away.
That means one side is really hot, with temperatures reaching an estimated 2 thousand to 28 hundred degrees Celsius.
According to Josh Winn, associate professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Nobody has really calculated whether or not we expect the 'nightside' to be molten. We do not know the temperature of the nightside, nor how far down the molten layer is expected to go within the planet.”
The positioning of Kepler 78b in relation to the host star is something that astronomers have never seen before and can’t explain, but they predict that within the next 3 billion years, it will slowly be pulled closer, until the gravitational pull of the star destroys it.