get your rocks off

This planet is so hot its rocks get vaporized

K2-141 b is gravitationally locked to its star, meaning one side is blazing hot but the other is deadly cold.

200 lightyears away, there is a planet with a surface, an ocean, an atmosphere, and even rain.

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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.

Lynette Cook/NASA

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The side closest to the star reaches more than 5000 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot enough to melt — and vaporize — rock.

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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.

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That magma ocean flows back to the hot side, and the cycle begins again.

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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.

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Astronomers will be able to investigate closer with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (currently slated for 2021).

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“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.”

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Read more space stories here.

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