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Home / Science / Astronomers find evidence of a dangerous lava world hidden by a huge planet

Astronomers find evidence of a dangerous lava world hidden by a huge planet



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An illustration of a volcanic exo-Io with sodium clouds on the lunar orbit, possibly driven by the magnetosphere of the gas giant


University of Bern / Thibaut Roger

Scientists say there may be a rocky exomoon 550 LY away with a hell of a lava-strewn surface, as in the fictional world of Mustafar, where Anakin Skywalker fought Obi-Wan Kenobi in a fateful duel.

An Exomoon is a natural satellite that exists around a planet outside our solar system. Astronomers are pretty sure that they exist but they still have to make a final discovery (and some even think exo moons could have moons that support the life of aliens which they " To call moon moons ").

Researchers at the University of Bern describe this new Exomoon candidate in a study to be published in the Astrophysical Journal and available as a pre-print on arXiv. Sodium gas, which was detected near the giant planet WASP-49b, suggests that its orbit may contain a volcanic exomoon similar to Jupiter's fiery lunar Io .

"The neutral sodium gas is so far away from the planet that it is unlikely to be emitted by just a planetary wind," says Apurva Oza, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bern in a press release. The Exomoon "would be a dangerous volcanic world with a molten surface of lava … a place where Jedi would die, which Anakin Skywalker is dangerously known for."

In fact, Anakin Skywalker did not die on the molten surface of Mustafar, but here Kenobi confirmed that the conversion of the fallen Jedi to a dark-hearted Sith Lord was complete.

To be clear, the researchers did not directly observe a moon around the gas giant WASP-49b. Instead, they found evidence that such a volcanic exomoon could be in the form of sodium gas and the right conditions for the survival of such a sullen satellite.

Oza's work shows that a heavily volcanic exomoon spits sodium and potassium into space. Jupiter's moon Io was the best solar system equivalent for such a phenomenon, causing the research team to call the signal they see around WASP-49b "Exo-Io".

Oza admits, however, that a large ring of ionized gas surrounding WASP-49b could also explain the presence of the proven sodium gas.

"We need to find more clues," he says.

If the volcano is exomoon, it might be even stranger than Mustafar because it orbits a huge, hot gas giant planet orbiting its host star in less than three days. Such conditions would certainly be too intense even for a Jedi Master, but perhaps the coming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will surprise us with more lava lightsaber combat scenes.

Originally Published 1: 59 pm PT
Updated 15:40 PT: Additional Exomoon Information and Study Information.


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