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This bizarre planet could have supersonic winds in an atmosphere of vaporized rock

Scientists think they have identified a lava world so dramatic that it might boast a thin regional atmosphere of vaporized rock where it is closest to its star.



a star in the dark: An artist's depiction of K2-141b, showing molten rock evaporating into a thin atmosphere in the region closest to the exoplanet's star.


© Provided by Space
An artist’s depiction of K2-141b, showing molten rock evaporating into a thin atmosphere in the region closest to the exoplanet’s star.

That exoplanet is called K2-141b and was originally discovered in 2017. The world is about half again as big as Earth but orbits so close to its star, which is one class smaller than our own, that it completes several loops each Earth-day with the same surface permanently facing the star. Now, scientists predict those factors mean that two-thirds of the surface of K2-141b is permanently sunlit — so much so that not only is part of the world covered in a lava ocean, but some of that rock may even evaporate away into the atmosphere.

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