Discovered in 2018 by the Kepler Space Telescope, K2-141b is considered one of the few exoplanets with the most extreme environments ever discovered. This is the conclusion recently reached after scientists at McGill University, York University and the Indian Institute of Educational Sciences used computer models to predict weather conditions on K2-141b. .
At roughly the size of Earth, K2-141b is one of the rocky planets located very close to an orange brown dwarf star. Under the action of gravity, half of the planet’s hemisphere always faces its host star, while the other half is in eternal darkness. This is called the ‘tidal lock’ phenomenon.
K2-141b is considered a ‘hell’ planet, due to its extremely harsh environment, along with extreme weather phenomena.
According to astronomers, due to being located too close to the host star, the temperature at the daytime surface of K2-141b is extremely high, exceeding 3000 degrees C. Meanwhile, the night surface is much colder, only at -200 degree centigrade
The heat level in the daytime surface of K2-141b is so high that it not only turns rocky soil into lava, but even causes them to evaporate. As a result, a series of lava oceans up to 100km deep appeared on the surface of K2-141b, parallel to a thin rocky atmosphere that surrounds these lava oceans.
Due to the huge temperature difference between the two sides of K2-141b, a series of extreme weather phenomena occurred on this planet. Specifically, the winds on K2-141b can reach supersonic speeds, up to 5000km / h. Meanwhile, a series of rains formed from evaporated rock are also constantly pouring down on this planet.
During the water cycle on Earth, water evaporates into the atmosphere, condenses and returns to the surface as rain. The water then flows out to the ocean again, and the evaporation is repeated. A similar cycle is happening on K2-141b.
Lava ocean 100km deep on the surface K2-141b
However, instead of water as on Earth, minerals such as sodium, silicon monoxide, and silicon dioxide are the main components of the K2-141b cycle. When the rock and soil on the surface of this planet are melted, they evaporate into the mineral vapor. These mineral vapors are then carried by supersonic winds from the daytime face of K2-141b to the cold night face.
Here, mineral vapor meets low temperature will precipitate, forming ‘rain’ of rock falling on the surface. From there, the rock created from the “rain” will again drift back down the lava ocean 100km deep, flowing back into the daytime to start the cycle again.
However, scientists say this cycle is not as stable as the one on Earth, as the flow of the ocean of lava from night to day occurs more slowly.
Scientists also predict that the mineral composition on K2-141b will change over time, before completely changing the surface and atmosphere of this planet.
“All rocky planets, including Earth, start with a molten surface but then quickly cool and solidify. Lava planets like K2-141b give us a rare glimpse of the early formation of this planet type, “the team said.
Refer to CBS News