200 lightyears away, there is a planet with a surface, an ocean, an atmosphere, and even rain.
And they’re all made out of rock.
K2-141 b is a rocky Super Earth exoplanet orbiting a star invisible to our Earth-bound eyes.
Julie Roussy, McGill Graphic Design and Getty Images
The planet is so close to its star that it’s gravitationally locked — meaning one side always faces the star, and one side always faces away.
The side closest to the star reaches more than 5000 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot enough to melt — and vaporize — rock.
When the rock evaporates, supersonic winds blowing at 3000 miles per hour push it to the permanently shadowed side of the planet, where temperatures plummet to -300 Fahrenheit.
There, it condenses...and rains. In fact, it rains rock into a molten magma ocean.
That magma ocean flows back to the hot side, and the cycle begins again.
The planet came to light as a result of a computer simulation, so we still need to confirm the fiery nature of this rocky world.
Astronomers will be able to investigate closer with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (currently slated for 2021).
“All rocky planets, including Earth, started off as molten worlds but then rapidly cooled and solidified,” Nicolas Cowan, a coauthor on the new paper and planetary scientist at McGill University, said in a statement.
“Lava planets give us a rare glimpse at this stage of planetary evolution.”