IIn the coming weeks, the James Webb Space Telescope will be in a unique position to observe the surface of planet 55 Cancri E, also known as “Super Earth” located 50 light-years from our planet for the first time.
Some compare it to hell
For this great event, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is preparing to confirm that this place in the universe may be a true representation of what we here call “hell”.
This is because 55 Cancri e is so close to its star, so similar to our Sun, that its surface is constantly boiling.
“With surface temperatures well above the melting point of typical rock-forming minerals, the diurnal side of the planet is thought to be covered with seas of lava,” NASA explained.
There are no similar conditions for any of the planets in the solar system.
NASA scientists are seeking to decipher whether the planet’s motion is “tidal-locked, with one side facing the star at all times” or in a way that allows alternation between day and night.
The first images of this planet, taken by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, were unable to pinpoint why the planet’s hottest point isn’t the part directly facing its star.
In addition, there is a stark contrast in temperatures in different parts of the planet: it is heated up to 800 ° C, while the dark side reaches minus 250 ° C.
According to NASA estimates, the first images of the planet are expected to be available during the summer
One theory put forward by NASA experts is that the planet has a “dynamic atmosphere that drives heat.” Another hypothesis suggests that the star may rotate to allow day and night.
“In this scenario, the surface would heat up, melt, and even evaporate during the day, forming an extremely thin atmosphere that the Webb Telescope could detect,” the US space agency said. “In the afternoon, the steam cools and condenses to form drops of lava that will rain back to the surface, becoming solid again as night falls.”
What does NASA expect to find at 55 Cancree E?
Scientists say that once the James Webb Space Telescope is operating at full capacity, it will be possible to confirm whether this planet has an atmosphere. In its first year of operations, the telescope will study the planet 55 Cancri and the airless planet LHS 3844 b in an effort to understand the “evolution of rocky planets like Earth”.
Meanwhile, NASA scientists are calibrating the telescope’s instruments in order to study a series of rocky exoplanets located at an average distance of 50 light-years from our planet.
It’s Super Earth
Scientists believe that this “super-Earth” could contain an entire hemisphere full of volcanic activity comparable to island regions such as Hawaii and Iceland.
#NASA #study #volcanic #planet #similar #Mustafar #Star #Wars #Universe