The first thermal map of a lava-world
The super-Earth 55 Cancri e has eight times Earth’s mass and twice its radius. It orbits around its Sun-like star in less than a day, a proximity that leaves it incredibly hot, a molten lava-world.
Astronomers have published the first thermal map of a lava world in nature. The first results of the day-night temperature gradient measured for 55 Cancri e reveal a very alien world with one hot and one less hot side. Their observations are consistent with either an optically thick atmosphere with heat recirculation confined to the planetary dayside, or a planet devoid of an atmosphere with low-viscosity magma flows at the surface. Only further observations can tell what we are looking at.