Newly Discovered Exoplanet LP 791-18 d May Have Volcanic Activity and Potential for Atmosphere
A newly discovered exoplanet, LP 791-18 d, located approximately 90 light-years away in the southern constellation Crater, has been found to be slightly larger and denser than Earth. The planet orbits a red dwarf star and may be much more volcanically active than Earth. Researchers estimate that LP 791-18 d falls within the inner edge of the habitable zone, the distance from a star where a planet is warm enough to support liquid water on its surface.
The planet's volcanic activity may be caused by the gravitational pull of another planet, LP 791-18 c, in the same system. During each orbit, planets d and c pass very close to each other, and each close pass by planet c produces a gravitational tug on planet d, making its orbit somewhat elliptical. On this elliptical path, planet d is slightly deformed by tides every time it goes around the star. These deformations can create enough internal friction to substantially heat the planet’s interior and produce volcanic activity at its surface, similar to the way Jupiter and some of its moons affect Io.
It is likely that the day side's surface is too hot to support liquid water. But the amount of volcanic activity we suspect occurs all over the planet could sustain an atmosphere, which may allow water to condense on the night side,”The day side would probably be too hot for liquid water to exist on the surface. But the amount of volcanic activity we suspect occurs all over the planet could sustain an atmosphere, which may allow water to condense on the night side,”In addition to potentially providing an atmosphere, these processes could churn up materials that would otherwise sink down and get trapped in the crust, including those we think are important for life, like carbon,”In addition to potentially providing an atmosphere, these processes could churn up materials that would otherwise sink down and get trapped in the crust, including those we think are important for life, like carbon,
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