Exoplanet K2-141b likely has oceans of molten lava and supersonic winds

One of the most extreme exoplanets ever discovered is called K2-141b. It's a scorching world that orbits so close to its star that some regions of the planet are likely oceans of molten lava. Scientists from McGill University, York University, and the Indian Institute of Science Education say that the atmosphere and whether cycle on K2-141b is very extreme.The researchers say that the planet features the evaporation and precipitation of rocks, supersonic winds that batter the planet at over 5000 km/h, and a magma ocean 100 kilometers deep. The exoplanet study was published recently, and scientists use computer simulations to predict conditions on the planet.

K2-141b is an Earth-sized exoplanet with a surface, ocean, and atmosphere all made up of rocks. Scientists believe that the extreme weather their analysis forecasts could permanently change the planet's surface and atmosphere over time. Two-thirds of K2-141b is in perpetual daylight, and it belongs to a subset of rocky planets orbiting very close to their star. Proximity to the star keeps the planet gravitationally locked in place, so a single side always faces the star.

While the dayside of the planet is an ocean of magma at 3000 degrees Celsius, the nightside faces extremely cold temperatures below -200 degrees Celsius. The dayside is hot enough to melt and vaporize rocks, creating a thin atmosphere in some areas. The extreme heat causes the rock vapor to undergo precipitation just as the water cycle on earth, only rather than the precipitation being water, on K2-141b, it's sodium, silicon monoxide, and silicon dioxide.

The evaporated rock is then blown to the cold nightside by the supersonic winds, and ultimately rocks rained down from the sky. Researchers note that all rocky planets started as molten worlds before they cooled. K2-141b gives us a glimpse at what the earth might have looked like before it cooled. Further investigations will be conducted once the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021.