Molten exoplanet followup

By Phil Plait | January 10, 2011 7:59 pm

Just a quick note: NASA Ames posted a nice short video about the exoplanet announced earlier today, and I figured y’all might like to see it:

I think maybe they’re taking some pretty big license with the planet surface, but it’s still a neat video.

MORE ABOUT: Kepler-10b

Comments (17)

  1. Anthony

    I watched this earlier and thought it was really neat! I always like when they provide illustration and especially videos like this. It is sometimes hard to imagine planets from just numbers and statistics, but at least there are people with better artistic talent/imaginations than me and videos like this, I think, can really help others become interested in astronomy.

  2. Monkey

    Yeah, I agree….although there may be some distance between fact and artistic interpretation, it is useful to have a visual idea of it. However, we dont yet know if that distance is great or not!

    Neat video, kudos all at the helm of Kepler!

  3. Utakata

    I dunno…I’ve always wanted to see the surfaces (those that have them) of these new planets close-up, instead of some cresent silhouette’d illustration which is seems standard fair. Because in my life time…as likely many generations to come, we’ll never see what those surfaces look like with our own eyes. So the more of these liberties and speculations, the merrier. Though I do take them with a grain salt.

  4. Daniel J. Andrews

    heh, Chris (9 in the other kepler article) nailed it when he said he thinks Vulcan would be a good name.

  5. Eric

    Really cool video and even cooler to learn that these planets are out there. Just a matter of time before we find another earth. But that’s not Vulcan!Spoke is hypothetically from Vulcan! Don’t any of you watch Star Trek? LOL. Vulcan is supossed to be able to support Life. What is the narrator talking about? We should just call it Crispy!

  6. Sir Craig

    The video certainly gave me a new-found appreciation for what these scientists are achieving – the sequence showing the area of the sky they were looking at, then zooming in closer and closer until they finally arrived at the field featuring Kepler 10, made me realize just how much effort goes into locating these exoplanets. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack somewhere in the midst of millions of similar haystacks, all located on Mars.

    Indeed, impressive work.

  7. Crux Australis

    Video downloaded and saved for use in class. Thanks!

  8. Oli

    Why would the other side be molten as well? At such a tiny distance the planet is probably tidally locked, so the dark side wouldn’t get any heat from the star. Couldn’t that part be rocky?

  9. Wil

    That is a very nice animation, and this is an amazing discovery.

    A couple of minor, picky points – at those temperatures, the yellows, oranges and reds shown in the video would actually all be brilliantly white hot. The hot side of the planet would probably be a smooth ocean of white hot molten metal alloy (as opposed to molten rock).

    Also, the planet’s high gravity and high temperatures would probably keep vertical structures to a minimum on the dark side of the planet.

  10. Biot

    @ 4: Vulcan would not be a good name as is already exists…

  11. Messier Tidy Upper

    Just a quick note: NASA Ames posted a nice short video about the exoplanet announced earlier today, and I figured y’all might like to see it

    Yup indeedy – you sure figured that right in my case! ūüėČ

    Yikes, I’m off line a day or two for RL reasons and this happens!
    Love this news and Youtube clip. 8)

    Crikey, were they ever quick to make this video presentation and animation too – although I think they stole a litle bit from Lucasfilm SFX of Mustafar somewhere there! ūüėČ

    PS. Would’ve liked a little more info on the animation too eg. stellar spectral class ad nature eg. main-sequence or sub-giant, exact distance in AU /km , orbital period, etc .. still so much to discover & so many questions to ask! :-)

  12. Gonçalo Aguiar

    What is the nightside temperature?

  13. Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum

    Damb fine video work there!
    I’m jealous as all heck.

  14. I’m no celestial mechanic, but I wonder about planetary formation with respect to a planet such as this. It is so close to its star. I suppose it could have formed farther out or have been captured; coming from outside that star system. Could it accrete that close to a star?

  15. andy

    @PsyberDave: almost certainly it formed further out – there just isn’t enough material that close to the star to build the planet in situ. However this system formed, it represents a very different outcome to our solar system. It is still the case that after 2 decades or so of exoplanet discovery the only other system that looks remotely like our own inner solar system are the pulsar planets around PSR B1257+12, and they represent the outcome of a very different set of initial conditions (supernova fallback disc) to those found around young sunlike stars.

  16. Messier Tidy Upper

    @12. Gonçalo Aguiar asked :

    What is the nightside temperature?

    I don’t think we know for sure and finding out is going to be be difficult although not impossible given we’ve mapped Hot Jupiter’s before already – see :


    From the second one there :

    “The study revealed that the side of the planet {CoRoT-1b, a Hot Jupiter or Pegasid type planet} facing the sun is searingly hot, with temperatures reaching about 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit on that side, but peaking at around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit on the dark side. The study also shed light on the atmosphere of the exoplanet and suggest that there is not a lot of transfer of heat from the dayside to the nightside of the planet. Another observed exoplanet had less of a heat difference between its two sides, suggesting that wind was transporting the incoming solar energy, but ‚Äúfor this planet, that is apparently not the case‚ÄĚ [], says lead researcher Ignas Snellen.” [brackets original] {brackets added}


    Which note that on Osiris (HD 209458 b) :

    “Because the planet circles its star at a distance only one-twentieth of the distance between Earth and the sun, the temperature of the upper atmosphere on HD 209458b‚Äôs sun-facing side is thought to be as high as 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit (10,000 degrees Celsius) while the dark side is much cooler. The upper layers of the atmosphere were observed rushing from the hot side to the cold side.”

    In essence, some exoplanets have been found to have fairly equalised, even temperatures while others have such imbalances as Osiris displays. Mind you, these worlds are Hot Jupiters or Pegasids which are much more massive and have deeper, thicker atmosphere than this smaller, non-gas giant world.

    So it may be that the dark side of Kepler-10b is considerably colder than the lava sea on its day side – even a chilly place with near- absolute zero temperatures like the night time terrain on Mercury which has the most extreme temperature range in our solar system (Maximum temp. 800 K and minimum 90 degrees Kelvin*) or it might be that the planet is molten throughout and the heat is conducted and radiated over the entire globe. Or something in-between.

    At this stage – although I could be mistaken (& if so I’d love to hear about this too!) – I just don’t think we can say for sure.


    PS. I’m sure the BA has written about weather extremes and mapping on exoplanets too but those were the firts oens thatcame up on the search engine, sorry Phil.

    * Degrees Kelvin a measure of temperature that starts with 0 at absolute zero or minus 273 degrees Celsius. To get the Celsius equivalent just add 273, to get the Fahrenheit equivalent, well, sorry, I’ve no idea but I guess translate into Celcius then use one of a number of programs that “translate” the two measuremnet systems.

  17. Jeff

    This is excellent,

    yes, the Kepler team is getting closer to discovering an “earth”, this is pretty close, a small terrestrial planet. I have no doubt many other Kepler-X’s planets will be discovered, like earth, watch for those in next few years.

    I remember back in the stone ages in school they told us exoplanets couldn’t be discovered, they didn’t realize the technology would ever advance this far. Anyone remember the naysayers of those days?


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