First lightcurve of a lava-planet

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.

Artist impression of the Super-Lava-world 55 credit: Cancri e NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt Artist impression of the Super-Lava-world 55 credit: Cancri e NASA / JPL-Caltech / R. Hurt

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.

Further info e.g.
on nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature17169.html
on gizmodo: http://gizmodo.com/molten-lava-flows-on-this-super-earths-surface-like-wat-1767956529
Klarman Hall at sunset

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