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A nearby, rocky exoplanet may be just a plain rock with no atmosphere — supporting a theory that planets orbiting small stars are more susceptible to lacking an atmosphere.
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observed the planet, named LHS 3844b, while looking for signs of an atmosphere. Instead, they found indications that the planet is a bare rock. The findings support the theory that planets orbiting smaller stars (around 60% smaller in radius than the sun) lack substantial atmospheres — possibly due to the radiation from their dwarf star, according to the study.
LHS - Radius - Times - Earth - Orbit
LHS 3844b has a radius that is 1.3 times larger than Earth, and it completes one orbit around its host star in a mere 11 hours.
One side of the planet, the "dayside," is a scorching 1,410 degrees Fahrenheit (770 degrees Celsius). If there was a substantial atmosphere present on the planet, then the hot air from one side would generate winds that transfer heat across the planet's surface. But with a lack of atmosphere, there would be no air to transfer the heat around. (The temperature of the planet's "nightside" could not be measured by the Spitzer telescope, as it is an infrared telescope).
Temperature - Contrast - Planet
"The temperature contrast on this planet is about...
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