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Scientists Determine ‘Extreme’ So-Called ‘Lava Planet’ Rains Rocks, Is Covered in Magma Oceans

JULIE ROUSSY, MCGILL GRAPHIC DESIGN AND GETTY K2-141b

Far out in the galaxy sits a so-called “lava planet,” where it rains rocks into oceans made of magma and even supersonic winds can’t cool down the 5,000-degree temperatures.

A new study used computer simulations to predict the conditions of exoplanet K2-141b, and found those conditions to be “extreme,” including an ocean, surface and atmosphere all made of rock, according to a news release from the scientists behind the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society study.

The earth-sized planet also has supersonic winds and a magma ocean that’s 62 miles deep.

“The study is the first to make predictions about weather conditions on K2-141b that can be detected from hundreds of light years away with next-generation telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope,” lead author Giang Nguyen, a PhD student at York University who worked under the supervision of McGill

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This lava planet has a magma ocean and ‘rocky’ weather

That’s the portrait painted in a new study by scientists from McGill University, York University and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata published on Tuesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The researchers described conditions on this planet, called K2-141b, which is located about 210 light-years from Earth. It orbits extremely closely around its star, which is just slightly smaller than our sun.

This “lava” planet completes a revolution in about six or seven hours, just about grazing the star’s surface as it hurtles through space.

By contrast, Mercury, the closest planet to the sun in our solar system, takes 87 days to orbit the sun.

“Almost half of the planet is molten magma,” said lead study author Tue Giang Nguyen, a doctoral student at York University in Toronto. “The atmosphere created by vaporized rocks spreads around the planet.”

That vaporized silicon dioxide,

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Magma ‘conveyor belt’ fuelled world’s longest erupting supervolcanoes

volcano
A small eruption of Mount Rinjani, with volcanic lightning. Location: Lombok, Indonesia. Credit: Oliver Spalt, Wikipedia.

International research led by geologists from Curtin University has found that a volcanic province in the Indian Ocean was the world’s most continuously active—erupting for 30 million years—fuelled by a constantly moving conveyor belt of magma.


It’s believed this magma conveyor belt, created by shifts in the seabed, continuously made space available for the molten rock to flow for millions of years, beginning around 120 million years ago.

Research lead Qiang Jiang, a Ph.D. candidate from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said the studied volcanoes were in the Kerguelen Plateau, located in the Indian Ocean, about 3,000 kilometers south west of Fremantle, Western Australia.

“Extremely large accumulations of volcanic rocks—known as large volcanic provinces—are very interesting to scientists due to their links with mass extinctions, rapid climatic disturbances, and ore deposit formation,”

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