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Artist's illustration of K2-141b. Photo: Julie Roussy/McGill Graphic Design/Getty

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.

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Faces of COVID creator on telling the stories of those we've lost

America yesterday lost 2,762 people to COVID-19, per the CDC, bringing the total pandemic toll to 272,525. That's more than the population of Des Moines, Iowa. Or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or Toledo, Ohio.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Alex Goldstein, creator of the @FacesofCOVID Twitter account, about sharing the stories behind the statistics.

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