General, Research, Technology

A planet has been discovered with stone rains, and the wind speed exceeds the speed of sound

Billions of star systems in ours alonethe galaxy hides millions of worlds. Some of them look like Jupiter, others are completely covered in ice, and still others look like Mars or Earth. But there are planets so strange that the weather conditions on them are amazing. For example, on a planet called K2-141b, it rains stone, and the wind speed exceeds the speed of sound. There are also oceans of magma over 100 kilometers deep. Let me note that astronomers have found extreme "lava worlds" before. Basically, these are celestial bodies located so close to their star that their surface consists of oceans of molten lava. But planet K2-141b, discovered in 2018, is unusual even among these extreme worlds. Its surface, ocean and atmosphere are composed of rocks that fall like rain and melt into vast seas.

Exoplanet K2-141b is located close to its native star and turned to it with one side

Search for exoplanets

It seems astronomers are constantly discovering othersworlds. But this is "permanently" limited - for example, the first exoplanets - worlds orbiting other stars in other stellar systems, were discovered in 1992, and today more than four thousand such planets have been discovered; at least 1000 more are awaiting confirmation. The prefix exo comes from the Greek and means out; these worlds are far, far beyond our solar system.

In fact, the existence of planetary systems,different from ours has been assumed for centuries. But it became possible to see them only with the development of technology. Like our Earth, other worlds shine only with light reflected from native stars. But unlike them, exoplanets themselves are extremely dim; even the biggest ones drown in the light of their much brighter stars. This is why even today it is not easy to detect exoplanets.

Hellish planets covered with lava are a common occurrence in the vastness of the universe

Before the first discovery of exoplanets, mostastronomers assumed that exoplanets, if found, would be similar to the planets of our solar system. But in reality, many exoplanets are very different from each other, their position and orbits are difficult to explain. If astronomers thought that the solar system was in some way representative of other planetary systems in the galaxy, they were disappointed. Our solar system may be the exception rather than the rule.

For even more interesting articles about what the search for exoplanets can lead to, read our channel in Yandex.Zen. There are regularly published articles that are not on the site!

In turn, a series of the last astronomicaldiscoveries showed that there are worlds in space that look like hell, iron rains fall on some exoplanets, on others there is nothing but ice. Recently, my colleague Alexander Bogdanov compiled a list of 10 of the most unusual exoplanets in our galaxy, I recommend reading it.

Unusual worlds

As the researchers write in a paper published byin the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, exoplanet K2-141b is hostage to gravity, as it is located very close to its sun. So, two-thirds of the planet is stuck in the eternal, brilliant daylight of the orange dwarf, around which K2-141b revolves. Due to its extremely close proximity to the star, with years that last less than a third of a day on Earth, this exoplanet is gravitationally locked in place, which means that the same side is always facing the star.

On the dark side of K2-141b, the temperature is less than -200 ° C. On the other, daytime side, it is about 3000 ° C, which is hot enough for the stones to evaporate into subtle atmosphere - the atmosphere exposed to precipitation,working on the same principles as on Earth. Just as water evaporates into the atmosphere and then falls back as rain, so the sodium, silicon monoxide and silicon dioxide on K2-141b are swept to the cold dark side by supersonic winds, and eventually rocks rain from the sky.

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Researchers note that all rocky planetsafter their formation and before they cooled down, they looked like molten, lava worlds. Moreover, by studying K2-141b astronomers can learn a lot about our home planet's past. To understand what conditions might be in this unusual world, the researchers used computer simulations.

K2-141b lies over 200 light-years from Earth.

Britain's The Independent quotes the study's lead author, Giang Nguyen, a graduate student at York University:

“This is the first study in whichweather predictions for exoplanet K2-141b that can be detected from hundreds of light-years away with next-generation telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

Well, let's wait for further discoveries!