Endearingly named ‘LP 791-18 d’ by researchers, the earth-sized planet is believed to be blanketed with active volcanoes. While scientists have not actually seen volcanoes on the planet’s surface there are many reasons why this assumption is warranted.
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First of all the planet is not quite a hop-skip-and-jump away… in fact, it is roughly 5.9 trillion miles away or in space terms, 86 light-years away from our solar system. Because it is so far out, NASA labeled it an “Exoplanet”. The exoplanet was discovered when NASA was observing a dwarf star. The star already had two planets substantially larger than Earth orbiting it, yet it was not until recently that ole LP 791-18 d was discovered. The discovery was made with the TESS or Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, and the since-retired Spitzer NASA telescope, according to CBS.
Astronomers Find Earth-Sized Exoplanet
Upon discovery, many scientists noticed that the planet deforms slightly when orbiting the star, and being affected by the other planets’ gravitational pulls. Due to the movement and tug of gravity, scientists believe that it has a volcanic surface. To spare you the space jargon, the scientists have tried to say that the conditions on the planet ought to cause some serious heat inside the middle of the planet and so some eruptions on the surface… volcanoes. NASA also pointed out that the anomaly is similar to one of Jupiter’s moons which is confirmed to have a volcanic surface.
This is not the only interesting part about the exoplanet though. The distant planet also does not rotate as the Earth does. This means while we have day and night and people across the earth have night and day, LP 791-18 d has one day side and one-night side. One side is perpetually hot, and the other is forever dark and cold. Some scientists say that because of the conditions on the planet, it probably can maintain a solid atmosphere. Therefore it could be ripe for the all-important water, and precious materials like carbon.
NASA says the exoplanet will be one to look into for future studies. Who knows, maybe when NASA zooms in they will see Elon Musk zipping around in a carbon-fiber Tesla, sipping ice-cold water.
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