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This strange, rocky planet has no atmosphere



A nearby, rocky exoplanet may be just a rock without atmosphere – supporting a theory that planets orbiting small stars are more prone to lacking atmosphere. Space Telescope observed Planet LHS 3844b looking for signs of an atmosphere. Instead, they found evidence that the planet is a naked rock. The results support the theory that planets orbiting smaller stars (about 60% smaller in radius than the sun ) do not have a substantial atmosphere, possibly due to the radiation of their dwarf star, the study said.

LHS 3844b has a radius 1.3 times greater than that of Earth, and orbits its host star in just 11 hours.

Related: The strangest extraterrestrial planets (gallery)

The study was tested on the planet's atmosphere, which is an indication of whether they are living through life Watching may or may not receive light from its surface over a period of 1

00 hours. Through the observations, the scientists discovered that one side of the planet is permanently facing its star in a so-called " tidally locked " orbit. (The Earth's moon is also tidal, which is why we never see the other side.)

One side of the planet, the "daytime side," is a scorching 1,410 degrees Fahrenheit (770 degrees Celsius). If there was a sizable atmosphere on the planet, the hot air from one side would create winds that transmit heat across the surface of the planet. But without the atmosphere there would be no air to transfer the heat. (The temperature of the "night side" of the planet could not be measured with the Spitzer telescope because it is an infrared telescope.)

"The temperature contrast on this planet is about as great as it can be . " Laura Kreidberg, a researcher at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the new study said in a statement . "This fits wonderfully with our model of a bare rock with no atmosphere."

The surface of the planet could be said to be covered with the same dark lava stones called mare found on the darker parts of the moon.

The rocky exoplanet was first discovered by NASA in 2018 . The Transiting Exoplanet Satellite Survey found that LHS 3844b revolves around a M dwarf star – the most common type of star in the Milk Way.

The discovery of the exoplanet marks the first time that scientists have been able to observe an exoplanet orbiting an M dwarf without atmosphere.

"We have many theories about how planetary atmospheres behave around M-dwarves, but we could not empirically study them," Kreidberg said. "Now, with LHS 3844b, we have a terrestrial planet outside our solar system where we can observe for the first time that there is no atmosphere."

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