Earth-Like Planet More Like a Lava Lamp
It might be an interesting place to visit on Star Trek, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Theoretically, it shouldn’t even exist.
An exoplanet closest to our Earth in size has been discovered. Trouble is, it’s being called a “lava world.” It’s not clear why the press is getting so excited about it. Science Magazine’s Science Shot leads off with, “Alien World Is More Earth-Like Than Any Found.” Oh, really? Only the condemned would want to go there, because “it’s more of a hellish cousin to Earth than a twin,” the article states. Compared to those burning on Venus, they would have a grand view, though:
The majority of these so-called exoplanets are gas giants—big balls of gas and dust that are several times larger in radius than Earth. But Kepler-78b [so named because of its discovery by the Kepler spacecraft] is only 80% more massive than Earth and 20% larger in radius, two groups of researchers report online today in Nature. That makes it about as dense as Earth and suggests that it is composed of rock and iron. But the object’s distance from its star (which is somewhat smaller than our sun) is only about twice the star’s radius, which means that the star would loom on the horizon like a gigantic disk, filling up a large part of the sky. Not a bad view, if you didn’t mind being burned to a crisp.
That good-news, bad-news joke shields secular astrophysicists from a major problem for their planetary formation theories. The BBC News noted that this “lava world” is “something of a puzzle.” Indeed, “Lava World Baffles Astronomers: Planet Kepler-78b ‘Shouldn’t Exist’,” Science Daily whimpered.
According to current theories of planet formation, it couldn’t have formed so close to its star, nor could it have moved there.
“This planet is a complete mystery,” says astronomer David Latham of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). “We don’t know how it formed or how it got to where it is today. What we do know is that it’s not going to last forever.”
The planet will soon plunge into the star, becoming one with its sky-filling view. Why is it where it is? “It couldn’t have formed in place because you can’t form a planet inside a star,” said Dimitar Sasselov of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where the smart guys think about these things. “It couldn’t have formed further [sic] out and migrated inward, because it would have migrated all the way into the star. This planet is an enigma.”
It’s funny watching the secular naturalists at work. Any hint of warmth in a gas cloud, and it must be “undergoing star formation.” Any hint of the right density, and a planet is “Earthlike.” Any possibility of water, and there must be “Life” there (see hydrobioscopy in the Darwin Dictionary).
Some day they may find Earth’s twin: an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone (but see qualifiers for “habitable zone,” 9/19/13, 9/08/12). This story shows they still are in la-va land, because they cannot make this planet exist in their theories. Let them tell us how the planets they can see now came to be, and then we will be ready to discuss the next philosophical question.
Meanwhile, we enjoyed the funnies: “You can’t form a planet inside a star,” and “Not a bad view, if you didn’t mind being burned to a crisp.” They seem to do a better job at comedy than origin science.