First observed Earth-like exoplanet likely a volcanic wasteland

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Washington, January 6 (ANI): New research indicates that the first earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is likely a volcanic wasteland.

When scientists confirmed in October last year that they had detected the first rocky planet outside our solar system, it advanced the longtime quest to find an Earth-like planet hospitable to life.

Rocky planets are considered better environments to support life than planets that are mainly gaseous, like the other half of the planets in our system: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The rocky planet CoRoT-7 b was discovered circling a star some 480 light years from Earth.

It is, however, a forbidding place and unlikely to harbor life because it is so close to its star that temperatures might be above 4,000 degrees F (2,200 C) on the surface lit by its star and as low as minus 350 F (minus 210 C) on its dark side.

Now, scientists led by a University of Washington astronomer say that if CoRoT-7 b's orbit is not almost perfectly circular, then the planet might also be undergoing fierce volcanic eruptions.

It could be even more volcanically active than Jupiter's moon Io, which has more than 400 volcanoes and is the most geologically active object in our solar system.

"If conditions are what we speculate, then CoRoT-7 b could have multiple volcanoes going off continuously and magma flowing all over the surface," said Rory Barnes, a UW postdoctoral researcher of astronomy and astrobiology.

"Any planet where the surface is being remade at such a rate is a place nearly impossible for life to get a foothold," he said.

Barnes and his colleagues suspect CoRoT-7 b is subject to extreme volcanism partly because it is so close to its sun, the distance between the two being about 1.6 million miles (2.5 million kilometers), which is about 60 times closer than the Earth is to the sun.

Volcanism is then triggered by even a tiny deviation from a circular orbit. (ANI)

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