The newly discovered giant land appears to be full of volcanoes

The newly discovered giant land appears to be full of volcanoes

“This is a terrestrial planet that can best be described as Io on steroids,” astrophysicist Stephen Kane says of the new super-Earth he recently discovered. Until recently, the supermoon Io was the best known volcanic celestial body. But on this new planet, TOI-6713.01, conditions appear more extreme.

The astrophysicist describes the discovery of this super-Earth in a specialized journal Astronomical magazine. Kane’s team was able to find the exoplanet with the help of TESS, a space telescope that earlier this year also discovered a super-Earth in the habitable zone of a star.

A planet of molten lava

However, the probability that life is possible on the planet TOI-6713.01 seems much lower. “Volcanoes are constantly erupting on this planet.” Kane explains in a press release. “If you zoom in, you’ll see a planet glowing red with a surface of molten lava.” TOI-6713.01 has a surface temperature of more than 2,000 degrees Celsius, which is warmer than some stars.

How do volcanoes form on this super-Earth?

This makes this giant Earth more similar to Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. Volcanic eruptions also occur constantly there.

This volcanic activity is caused by the elliptical orbit in which Io moves around Jupiter: sometimes Io is relatively close to the planet, which increases its gravity. Other times, the Moon is farther from Jupiter and its gravity weakens. These fluctuations create tides on Io, where the moon’s surface moves up and down like waves. The released heat leads to volcanic eruptions.

On the super-Earth TOI-6713.01, you see something similar: This planet also orbits in what is called an elliptical orbit around its star. This creates extreme conditions: the entire planet is full of active volcanoes, many more than those on Io. “This is one of those places you don’t think actually exists,” Ken said.

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