Earth-size Planet covered with active Volcanoes discovered

LP 791-18 d: A Volcanic World with Potential for Atmospheric Water Condensation

Image Credit: NASA

A newly found planet, located approximately 90 light-years away in the Crater constellation, is posing a formidable competition to Jupiter's moon Io, which has long held the title of the most volcanically active celestial body in our solar system.

This Earth-like planet, the first of its kind to be discovered beyond our solar system, provides compelling evidence of volcanism occurring outside our Sun's domain. Despite being slightly larger than Earth, the planet orbits a small red dwarf star. If the ongoing research team's suspicions are correct and the planet remains geologically active, it could potentially possess an atmosphere.

According to NASA, LP 791-18 d, the newly identified planet, has the potential to experience volcanic eruptions with a frequency comparable to that of Jupiter's moon Io. The planet's existence was detected through data collected by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the retired Spitzer Space Telescope. The findings were subsequently supported by observations made by ground-based observatories.

According to scientists, the third planet discovered around this specific star is believed to be predominantly covered in volcanoes. While direct observation of the planet's volcanism was not possible, it was inferred based on the notable gravitational interaction it has with the larger of the two other planets orbiting the dim star. This gravitational interaction provides strong evidence of volcanic activity occurring on the planet.

Bjorn Benneke, a co-author of the study, explained that LP 791-18 d is tidally locked, meaning that one side of the planet always faces its star. As a result, the day side of the planet is expected to be excessively hot, making it unsuitable for liquid water to exist on the surface.

However, due to the significant volcanic activity believed to take place across the entire planet, it is possible that an atmosphere could be sustained. This atmosphere, in turn, may enable water to condense on the cooler night side of the planet.

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