An Earth-sized alien planet orbiting a dim star in our galactic neighbourhood is offering some of the best evidence to date of volcanism beyond our solar system, with observations suggesting a rugged and rocky world tormented by constant eruptions.
- Scientists said the planet, the third detected orbiting this particular star, is likely covered with volcanoes – similar to Jupiter’s moon Io, the most volcanically active body in our solar system.
- In our solar system, Earth and Venus are volcanically active, as are some of Jupiter’s moons.
- The planet’s volcanism was not directly observed but rather inferred due to its significant gravitational interaction with the larger of the two other planets orbiting the dim star.
- Planets beyond our solar system are called exoplanets.
- It is a planet that does not rotate – with one side perpetually in daylight and the other in darkness.
- The planet is located in the Milky Way about 86 light-years away from our solar system in the direction of the constellation Crater.
- A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).
- It is slightly larger than Earth and orbits very close to a red dwarf star — a type much smaller than our sun, with relatively low mass and temperature — completing its elliptical journey around it in only 2.8 days.
- Its surface temperature appears to be slightly warmer than Earth. It is situated on the inner edge of what is called the habitable zone, or Goldilocks zone, around the star — not too hot and not too cold, perhaps able to maintain liquid water on the surface and harbor life.
- Its orbit is sandwiched between the two other planets – the innermost one about 20% bigger than Earth and the outermost one about 250% the size of our planet.
- The researchers spotted the planet using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as some ground-based observatories.
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