Since its discovery in 2018 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Transiting Exoplanet Study Satellite (TESS), astronomers have been studying the exoplanet called LHS 3844b. A recent study from the University of Bern, Switzerland, using data collected by TESS, reveals that one side of the planet is tectonically active and volcanoes could be lighting up its night sky.
LHS 3844b is an exoplanet that is tidally locked to its star, meaning that one side of it is permanently facing the star while the other is facing space. The side facing the Sun registers temperatures of up to 770 degrees Celsius while the other registers temperatures below 250 degrees Celsius.
According to the study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers believe that severe temperatures on the planet could affect the interior of the planet. To test this, they ran simulations with different material forces and internal heat sources, such as heat from the planet’s core and the decay of radioactive elements.
“Most of the simulations showed that there was only an upward flow on one side of the planet and a downward flow on the other,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Meier, an astronomer at the Center for Space and Habitability. Bern, in a statement from the university. “Therefore, the material flowed from one hemisphere to the other. Surprisingly, the direction was not always the same. “
Study co-author at the University of Bern Center for Space and Habitability, Dr. Dan Browner, noted that based on what happens on Earth, material on the hot side of the planet was expected to be lighter and more fluid. up and vice versa on the dark side.
Browner explained the consequences of different material flows on the exoplanet. “However, some of the simulations also showed the opposite direction of flow. This initially counterintuitive result is due to viscosity change with temperature: cold material is stiffer and therefore does not want to bend, break, or subduct inward. Warm material, however, is less viscous, so even solid rock becomes more mobile when heated and can easily flow into the planet’s interior, “he said.
“Such a flow of material could have strange consequences. On any side of the planet where material flows upward, one would expect a great deal of volcanism on that particular side, “he added.
He also compared volcanic activity on the exoplanet to that of Hawaii and Iceland due to deep upwelling flows. He also believes that LHS 3844b may have one entire hemisphere filled with countless volcanoes and the other almost none.
On the other hand, Dr. Mier believes that more observations would be needed to verify such a conclusion. If your observations are correct, a higher resolution map of the surface temperature may reveal that the planet has “enhanced outgassing by volcanism or the detection of volcanic gases.”
LHS 3844b is 1.3 times the size of Earth and 2.25 times the mass. It takes just 11 hours for the planet to complete its orbit around its Sun, which is a red dwarf star almost one-fifth the size of our Sun.