A planet with rocky rain
It's raining rocks on a world hundreds of light-years from Earth.
The big picture: Scientists have found more than 4,000 planets outside of our solar system, giving them a window into the wide variety of worlds that exist out there in the universe, and placing our own planet in a more full context.
What they found: A study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society uses computer simulations to reveal new details about the previously discovered planet K2-141b, which is host to winds that blow faster than the speed of sound and an ocean of lava.
- The planet — which is about the size of Earth — also has a "rock cycle," in which vaporized rock on the extremely hot day side of the world creates a thin atmosphere over some parts of the planet that condenses and falls down as rain.
- Temperatures on the day side of the tidally locked planet can reach about 5,432°F, with the night side hitting temperatures of -328°F.
- “All rocky planets, including Earth, started off as molten worlds but then rapidly cooled and solidified. Lava planets give us a rare glimpse at this stage of planetary evolution,” Nicolas Cowan, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.