Model: It’s Raining Rocks on Exoplanet


“An exoplanet discovered last February by the COROT space telescope is close enough to its star that its “day-face” is hot enough to melt rock. Theoretical models suggest the planet has a gaseous-rock atmosphere and boiling oceans on its surface.

“According to models by scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, COROT-7b’s atmosphere is made up of the ingredients of rocks and when “a front moves in,” pebbles condense out of the air and rain into lakes of molten lava below.

“The work, by Laura Schaefer, research assistant in the Planetary Chemistry Laboratory, and Bruce Fegley Jr., professor of earth and planetary sciences, appears in the Oct. 1 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.”