Discovered Ultra-hot Super Earth 40 lightyears away

Researchers have discovered an extremely hot super Earth that has wildly fluctuating temperatures 40 just 40 lightyears from Earth. This is, in astronomical terms, ‘nearby. Scientists believe that the temperatures fluctuation is likely due to large amounts of volcanic activity. It is also known as the Diamond Planet. This exoplanet has the highest level of atmospheric variability. Exoplanets are planets that orbit a star outside the Solar System. Researchers from Cambridge, England observed a nearly threefold increase in temperatures over the course of a period of two years. Their findings were published in arXiv’s electronic print repository (citation below). Artist’s impression showing Cancri e with its hot, partially-molten planet surface before and after possible volcanic activity. Image: University of Cambridge. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt: Large amounts of volcanic activity. Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy and his colleagues believe that the reason for the high temperature variation is volcanic activity. This milestone in the identification of habitable planets within the Univervse is marked by the ability to see into the atmospheres of exoplanets rocky and observe their conditions. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was used by Dr. Madhusudhan, his team and others to see thermal emissions from the planet (officially called 55 Cancriee) which orbits a star similar to our Sun in the Cancer constellation, 40 lightyears from Earth. Extreme temperature variations The exoplanet’s hot side was subject to extreme temperatures. They saw the temperatures swing from 1 ,000degC up to 2 ,700degC. Wild temperature fluctuations Dr. Madhusudhan stated that they detected rapidly changing conditions, with temperatures on the hot ‘day’ side of the exoplanet swinging from 1,000degC to 2, 700degC. These plumes could be caused by extremely high levels of volcanic activity. This is more than was observed on one of Jupiter’s moons, ‘Io. It’s the most active planet in our Solar System. The lead author of this study, Dr. Brice Olivier Demory of University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory said that 55 Cancriee doesn’t rotate 55 Cancriee is eight times heavier than Earth and has twice its volume. The planet is close to its star. In fact, one year of Cancri e lasts hours. It is also tidally locked, meaning it doesn’t rotate as our planet. Instead there are a permanent “night” and “day”. According to the authors, 55Cancriee was chosen because it’s the closest super Earth with an atmosphere that can be studied. This makes it easy for scientists to study the atmospheric and surface conditions of rocky exoplanets. Astronomers have managed to map several gas giants’ conditions over the past few years. This is more challenging for super Earths. Super Earths are planets with a mass that is between one and ten times our planet’s. The abundance of carbon in 55 Cancriee’s initial observations suggested that it was made of diamond. These latest findings have changed the results in a significant way and raised new questions. Dr. Madhusudhan stated that the initial measurements of this planet supported a carbon-rich model. Now, we are finding out that these measurements change in time. It could still be rich in carbon, although we aren’t sure. Previous studies have suggested it to be a water-rich planet. “The current variability is unique and something that we haven’t seen elsewhere, so we don’t know if there’s a solid conventional explanation. However, science is all about the unexpected. Scientists often find clues in the most unlikely places. Researchers from Australia’s National University reported earlier this week the discovery of a large exoplanet about the same size as Jupiter 8 Earth weight. It orbits very close to a cool star around 500 light-years from our Solar System. Their findings challenge current theories about the formation of planets, they said. Citation: “Variability within the super-Earth 55Cnc e,” Brice Olivier Demory. Michael Gillon. Nikku Madhusudhan. Didier Queloz. arXiv. 2015. Submitted 1 May. Cited as arXiv 1505. 00269 [astro-ph.EP]. Video of Nearby Super Earth

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