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A new scientific research reveals the temperature of ‘Super Earth’

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Image source: www.businessinsider.my

London: Using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers that also includes an Indian-origin scientist has for the first time obtained the most detailed “fingerprint” of a super-Earth planet — a rocky planet nearly two times as big as ours.

The efforts led to the first temperature map that reveals extreme temperature swings from one side of the “55 Cancri e” planet to the other and hints that a possible reason for this is the presence of lava flows.

“We have entered a new era of atmospheric remote sensing of rocky exoplanets,” said study co-author Nikku Madhusudhan from the institute of astronomy at the University of Cambridge.

“It is incredible that we are now able to measure the large scale temperature distribution on the surface of a rocky exoplanet,” he added.

According to the team led by Cambridge, conditions on the hot side of the planet are so extreme that it may have caused the atmosphere to evaporate, with the result that conditions on the two sides of the planet vary widely.

Temperatures on the hot side can reach 2500 degrees Celsius while temperatures on the cool side are around 1100 degree Celsius.

“55 Cancri e” orbits a sun-like star located 40 light years away in the Cancer constellation.

It is a ‘super Earth’ – a rocky exoplanet about twice the size and eight times the mass of Earth and orbits its parent star so closely that a year lasts just 18 hours.

The planet is also tidally locked, meaning that it always shows the same face to its parent star, similar to the Moon, so there is a permanent “day” side and a “night” side.

Since it is among the nearest super Earths whose composition can be studied, 55 Cancri e is among the best candidates for detailed observations of surface and atmospheric conditions on rocky exoplanets.

“We haven’t yet found any other planet that is this small and orbits so close to its parent star, and is relatively close to us, so 55 Cancri e offers lots of possibilities,” added Dr Brice-Olivier Demory from Cambridge and the paper’s lead author.

“We still don’t know exactly what this planet is made of – it’s still a riddle. These results are like adding another brick to the wall, but the exact nature of this planet is still not completely understood,” he added in the paper appeared in the journal Nature.

According to Demory, one possibility for this variation could be either a complete lack of atmosphere, or one which has been partially destroyed due to the strong irradiation from the nearby host star.

Another possibility for the huge discrepancy between the day side and the night side may be that the molten lava on the day side moves heat along the surface, but since lava is mostly solid on the night side, heat is not moved around as efficiently.

What is unclear however, is where exactly the ‘extra’ heat on 55 Cancri e comes from in the first place.

The researchers may have to wait until the next generation of space telescopes are launched to find out.

In 2018, the successor to Hubble and Spitzer – the James Webb Space Telescope – will launch, allowing astronomers to look at planets outside our solar system with entirely new levels of precision.

Credits: Agencies

  • Akanksha Sharma

    These planets are termed as Super planets because their mass is twice as large as earth’s mass but the term does not imply that the temperature or any other living condition is similar to that of earths’.

  • Akanksha Sharma

    These planets are termed as Super planets because their mass is twice as large as earth’s mass but the term does not imply that the temperature or any other living condition is similar to that of earths’.

Next Story

All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border.

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Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for India
  • It is in Iran and is being built and operated by India
  • This port will increase India’s trade with Central Asia and Europe

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border. Chabahar is the trans-shipment and logistics hub for the Makran Coast and Baluchistan province of Iran.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The tension between India and Pakistan is nothing new. There are several instances where both the countries have tried to obstruct each other’s political or economic agendas. This obstruction, along with other strategic reasons, resulted in the India and Iran’s deal on the Chabahar Port, which is crucial because of several reasons.

Here are few things about it you may not have known before :

  • Under the Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement of 2016, the Chabahar port is the gateway to the Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan, which allows multi-modal goods’ and passengers’ transport.

Also Read: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

  • The agreement also states that India will develop and operate two berths in the first phase of the port. The contract is for 10 years and extendable. This time period excludes the first two years as they will be used for construction.
Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port’s first phase, which was developed by India, and inaugurated by Iran on 4th December 2017, is of great strategic importance as it makes it easier for India to conduct trade with Central Asia and Europe.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is also important for India’s trade because of Pakistan’s reluctance in allowing India to send goods to Iran and Afghanistan through its land territory.

Also Read: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant 

  • The development of Chabahar Port will increase the momentum of the International North-South Transport Corridor whose signatories include India, Afghanistan and Russia. Iran is the key gateway in this project. It will improve India’s trade with Central Asia as well as Europe.
    The Chabahar Port has also reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on the transit road, which went through Karachi. Now, trade can be conducted via Chabahar Port too. Islamabad has accused India of trying to use this development as a means to destabilise Pakistan.

    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port also acts as a counter to the barely 100 km away, Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is developed by China. However, Iran has defended that Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar and Pakistan is invited to join in its development.
  • In October 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to through Chabahar to Afghanistan, in order to test the viability of the route.
  • India will also construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar to Hajigak in Afghanistan. It will also connect Mashad in the north, providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan.This project is worth $1.6 billion.

    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehrain. Wikimedia Commons
    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehran. Wikimedia Commons
  • It is being said that India will supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are also possibilities of setting up a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iranian government.