A multi-national team of scientists claimed to have discovered an exoplanet covered with volcanoes. Located around 90 lightyears away from earth, the exoplanet is called LP 791-18 d. It is part of the LP 791-18 solar system that has a red dwarf at its center. There are two more planets in the system LP 791-18 b and LP 791-18 c. While the LP 791-18 d is quite similar to earth in size, the LP 791-18 c is two-and-half times the size of earth and 7 times its mass.
The large planet affects the orbit of the LP 791-18 d forcing it to orbit the red dwarf in an elliptical path. That kind of a path creates internal friction in the planet which results into volcanic activities. “In addition to potentially providing an atmosphere, these processes (volcanic and tectonic activities) could churn up materials that would otherwise sink down and get trapped in the crust, including those we think are important for life, like carbon.” The frequency of volcanic activity on the new exoplanet is likely equivalent to that on Jupiter’s moon Io.
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Since the LP 791-18 d is tidally locked with its sun, the planet doesn’t have a rotation. Therefore, one side of the planet has endless day and the other side has endless night. “The day side would probably be too hot for liquid water to exist on the surface. But the amount of volcanic activity we suspect occurs all over the planet could sustain an atmosphere, which may allow water to condense on the night side,” said Björn Benneke, one of the astronomers who studied the planet. The team that discovered the exoplanet thinks that it can be an “exceptional candidate for atmospheric studies.”
Notably, the planet was discovered using data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, before it was decommissioned by NASA.