Roasted Alien Atmospheres: Exoplanets, extrasolar planets or simply “alien worlds not from ’round these parts” are the talk of the town. Although we may have guessed that other stars should play host to planetary systems, it was only a few short years ago that they were definitively proven to exist. With the help of an upsurge in powerful space-based and ground-based observatories all looking for signs of exoplanets, we’ve realized there is a veritable menagerie of weird worlds that make our solar system look pedestrian.
Enter the “super-Earth” CoRot-7b, one of a handful of alien worlds that are nothing like Earth — despite what “super-Earth” moniker seems to suggest.
CoRot-7b orbits close to its host star. In fact, it orbits so close that it’s a searing-hot blob of magma. In research published in the Astrophysical Journal today, researchers of Washington University in St. Louis discuss hellish worlds like CoRot-7b and find that it’s possible the extreme radiation inflicted on these poor worlds cause them to generate their own atmospheres composed from the gas of vaporized rock.