Scientists have discovered a terrible, inhospitable hell planet floating through space. And before you say, “Uh, I know, lady. I live here!” allow me to clarify: They’ve found a second terrible hell planet, besides ours.
In a new paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers from York University, McGill University, and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research presented their models for the atmosphere and weather of K2-141b, a “lava planet” located roughly 200 light-years away. The planet rains rocks, has an enormous lava ocean over 60 miles deep, and winds whip across its surface at speeds more than four times the speed of sound. And, because of how the small planet moves around its sun, one part of it experiences permanent daylight and reaches temperatures up to 5,432 degrees Fahrenheit, while the other side exists in permanent darkness, and temperatures drop to negative-328 degrees.
But there are some downsides to living there, too. For example, as I mentioned before, the rock rain. On our own hell planet, the water cycle is such that water evaporates, rises up into the atmosphere, condenses, and falls back down as precipitation. This same process takes place on K2-141b, except with rocks instead of water. The extreme heat of one side causes rocks to evaporate into the air and then the supersonic winds pull the particles over to the cold side, where they condense back into rock and fall down into the deep lava ocean.
The planet likely won’t be like this forever, though, says Professor Nicolas Cowan, one of the study’s authors: “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.”
I know this all sounds pretty unpleasant, but just think: At least on K2-141b you wouldn’t have to deal with the Electoral College.