Another earth-sized exoplanet has been found beyond our solar system, and astronomers are calling in LP 791-18 D.
The planet is most likely covered with volcanoes, but also has the possibility to support life. What a strange combination. It also seems to be a bit like Jupiter’s Moon IO – it could have volcanic outbursts just like it.
The planet was found with ground-based observations made by the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian. They used a combination of space and ground-based observations, and used data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, as well as the Spitzer pace Telescope. To find the mass of the planet, the team measured tiny differences in the time it takes the planet to orbit it’s host star from one orbit to the next one.
LP 791-18 D orbits a small red dwarf star about 90 light years away in a constellation called Crater. The team who discovered it estimates the planet is only slightly larger than Earth. It’s also tidally locked, which means the same side constantly faces it’s nearby star. The side facing the star is most likely too hot for liquid water, but they suspect the volcanic activity could sustain an atmosphere. On that side, water could possibly condense on the dark side of the planet.
Source: Smithsonian / Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (KRBwyle)