The Floor Is Lava On Earth-sized Volcano-covered World!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023
by Jeanette Kazmierczak

Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized exoplanet, or world beyond our solar system, that may be carpeted with volcanoes. Called LP 791-18 d, the planet could undergo volcanic outbursts as often as Jupiter’s moon Io, the most volcanically active body in our solar system.

They found and studied the planet using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and retired Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as a suite of ground-based observatories.

A paper about the planet – led by Merrin Peterson, a graduate of the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) based at the University of Montreal – appears in the May 17 edition of the scientific journal Nature.

TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes, and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (KRBwyle)

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