Galaxys most brutal Hell World planet explored in detail in amazing new snaps

An exoplanet that has been labeled a "hell planet" has been revealed in stunning new pictures and may give scientists the key to finding more hospitable worlds.

Most planets are pretty unwelcoming, with just a handful of the thousands known to man thought to be able to host life – but even by these high standards, 55 Cancri e – also known as Janssen – is thought to be one of the most lethal worlds out there.

The exoplanet 55 Cancri e is about 41 lightyears from Earth and its surface is thought to be covered in an ocean of lava, Vice News reported.

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It is so close to its star that its year is just 18 hours long, and it is thought that temperatures during the day average around 2573 Kelvin – or a whopping 2,300C.

Scientists have long wondered how 55 Cancri e became such a fiery, inhospitable planet – but thanks to new research, they may finally have an answer.

A new analysis, led by astrophysicist Lily Zhao, of the planet's orbit and the orbits of the five other exoplanets circling the same star has suggested Janssen may have formed much farther out from the star and moved slowly inwards.

"We've learned about how this multi-planet system – one of the systems with the most planets that we've found – got into its current state," Zhao, of the Flatiron Institute in New York, said.

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This discovery is exciting for scientists, Zhao explained, as it could help researchers identify hospitable planets in the future – and help them understand the likelihood that a welcoming planet could turn into a lava-covered hellscape.

"Understanding how planets evolve and migrate will definitely impact our understanding of planetary habitability likelihoods," Zhao said in an email to Motherboard.

"The habitable zone is a good rule of thumb for whether a planet could sustain water-based life at present, but in order for life to successfully form, a planet must stay habitable for the time it takes life to manifest.

"It is therefore essential to understand how planets might move around in systems with different numbers and types of planets as well as around different stars to understand how long a planet has been and/or will stay habitable."

Zhao and her team are now using specialist equipment called EXtreme PREcision Spectrometer (EXPRES) at the Lowell Observatory’s Lowell Discovery Telescope in Arizona, hoping to better understand how exoplanets move from their original positions and change as they do.

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Not only that, but scientists may finally get to learn what Janssen, discovered in 2004, is made of – with current guesses including carbon in the form of diamonds.

“Diamond is one possible explanation for the size and mass of 55 Cancri e, but we really can't be sure what this planet is made of,” Zhao said. “In fact, the composition of smaller, low-mass planets like 55 Cancri e is not currently well understood because it has been difficult to measure the mass of these planets.”

“With the potential for more precise [radial velocity] measurements using EXPRES, we will be able to discover and determine masses for more of these planets and get a better grasp of what these planets might be made of,” she added.


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