Scientists have discovered a new celestial body they are describing as a "hell planet," covered in lava with perpetual daylight where it constantly rains rocks, which will likely remind Star Wars fans of Darth Vader's home base on the planet Mustafar. A new study from Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (via CBS News) details the research made by scientists from McGill University, York University, and the Indian Institute of Science Education. They are describing it as a "lava planet," which orbit closely to its host star that it much of its body is made up of flowing molten lava. It is roughly the size of our Earth.
"The study is the first to make predictions about weather conditions on K2-141b that can be detected from hundreds of light years away with next-generation telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope," said lead author Giang Nguyen.
Added co-author Nicolas Cowan, "Our finding likely means that the atmosphere extends a little beyond the shore of the magma ocean, making it easier to spot with space telescopes."
Because the planet is located so close to its host star, it is gravitationally locked in its place as it orbits, which means two-thirds of the surface are perpetually facing the same side and are constantly covered in daylight, where it can reach temperatures over 5,400 degrees Farenheit. The opposite side is shrouded in permanent darkness, where the temperatures can be as low as -328 degrees.
Of course while this is likely intimidating to us meager humans, a Sith Lord like Darth Vader would likely be right at home in a volatile location like this. Vader's castle is located in a very similar location in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, which also served as the site of Anakin Skywalker's recreation as Emperor Palpatine's apprentice. While it might serve as a sweet location for a lightsaber fight, the heat would likely evaporate any humanoids attempting to duel over a lava river.
Scientists are eager to study this planet, as Cowan explained it can be an interesting look at the lifecycle of a planet.
"All rocky planets, including Earth, started off as molten worlds but then rapidly cooled and solidified. Lava planets give us a rare glimpse at this stage of planetary evolution," Cowan said.