Planet Hell

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In the Star Wars movie, “Revenge of the Sith,” the final battle pitting the two main characters, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, takes place on the hellish planet of Mustafar, mainly covered by volcanoes and magma.

Now, scientists discovered a similar planet 66 light years away from our Solar system, more explosive than anything they have ever encountered, Newsweek reported. “This is a terrestrial planet that I would describe as Io on steroids,” said astrophysicist Stephen Kane, who led the study, referring to the most volcanic body in the solar system found until now.

Volcanic celestial bodies are not uncommon: Jupiter’s moon, Io, is the most volcanically active celestial body in the Solar system, packed with hundreds of explosive volcanoes spewing plumes of sulfur and sulfur dioxide miles into space.

But as Kane and his team detailed the discovery of TOI-6713.01, a rocky planet around 30 percent larger than Earth with a surface temperature of more than 4,200 degrees Fahrenheit, he wrote in a new study that he was stunned.

“It’s been forced into a situation where it’s constantly exploding with volcanoes,” he said.

The team explained that the hot planet’s extreme volcanism is because of the powerful effects of gravity from its parent body – in this case, the star it is orbiting, HD 104067.

They suspect this phenomenon to be very similar to that experienced by Io, where the extreme volcanic activity results from tidal heating, caused by gravitational interactions with Jupiter and the other Galilean moons.

The gravitational forces pull Io into an elliptical orbit, creating tidal energy that stretches and squeezes the moon, thereby triggering its significant geophysical activity.

A similar tidal heating process is suspected to occur with TOI-6713.01 and the two other exoplanets orbiting HD 104067.

“This teaches us a lot about the extremes of how much energy can be pumped into a terrestrial planet, and the consequences of that,” Kane added.

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