Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Molten Planet CoRoT-7b

Molten Planet CoRoT-7b
Molten Planet CoRoT-7b Celebrated as the first rocky exoplanet to be discovered (in 2009), CoRoT-7b orbits a Sunlike star. Apart from that, it is nothing like Earth. The planet circles its star so closely that its sun-facing surface is probably molten lava. It is likely tidally locked, making the dayside permanently molten and the nightside permanently frigid. Daytime temperatures on the planet may reach 2,000 degrees Celsius (3,600 degrees Fahrenheit) but may drop to -200 Celsius (-330 Fahrenheit) on the nightside. It may have begun its existence as a more distant and massive gas giant, like our solar system’s Saturn. However, CoRoT-7b’s orbit has shrunk and is now only a sixtieth of Earth's distance from the Sun. As a result, CoRoT-7b lost its original gaseous envelope; all that is left now is its rocky former core. Mark Garlick

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