Friday, 5 July 2013
There is a planet that is made up of burning ice!
The vast amounts of water that make up the planet are kept in a solid state by gravity pulling the water molecules towards the planets core. This means that even the searing surface temperatures aren’t enough to evaporate the water away from the planet, instead the water molecules are kept densely packed together pulled towards the core. Gliese 436 B probably started out life as a gas giant, similar to Jupiter, orbiting a star much like our sun. That star has since entered its final stage and has exploded in size to become a Red Giant. Red Giants are much cooler than main sequence stars, with a surface temperature of around 4,500 °C. The sun will become a red giant in an estimated 5 billion years time, possibly destroying the Earth in the process. It seems Gliese 436 B wasn’t destroyed by this event as it was far enough away, but has had it’s entire atmosphere burned off leaving just a tiny ice cube floating around a dying star. Once every two and half days. On fire.