World Premiere: Scientists Detect Tectonic Activity on Another Planet

World Premiere: Scientists Detect Tectonic Activity on Another Planet

You may not have heard about the exoplanet LHS 3844b, and not just because we live in an insanely huge Universe that defies human comprehension. But don’t worry, astronomers also didn’t hear about LHS 3844b until about two years ago when the exoplanet was discovered. The cosmic object is a ‘super-Earth’ located 48.6 light-years away from us, but none of these two facts is the weirdest part about the exoplanet.

Astronomers knew for a long time that there are ‘super-Earths’ out there (rocky planets bigger than ours and located in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of their solar systems) and that there is such thing as an exoplanet in the first place (planets that don’t belong in our solar system). But what they didn’t know for sure is that other planets can also possess tectonic activity similar to Earth.

An entire hemisphere teeming with volcanoes

The new research called ‘Hemispheric Tectonics’ and published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters grants new precious info about the LHS 3844b exoplanet, as reveals. Researchers observed the so-called ‘hemispheric-scale flow of subsurface material’ through simulations, meaning movements upwards on one side of the planet and downward flow on another side.

Even since the exoplanet’s discovery, scientists knew that it’s teeming with lava rocks. They further discovered that there are extreme temperatures on the surface of LHS 3844: up to about 800 degrees Celsius during the day and minus 250 degrees Celsius at night.

Tobias Meier, an astronomer from the University of Ben (Switzerland), declared:

We thought that this severe temperature contrast might affect material flow in the planet’s interior.

As geophysicist Dan Bower from the University of Bern stated:

On whichever side of the planet the material flows upwards, there would be a large amount of volcanism on that particular side.

Therefore, LHS 3844b became the first exoplanet that shows signs of tectonic activity. Once again, we convince ourselves that what we see on Earth can also exist on other planets. Hopefully, we’ll also see exoplanet versions of humans one day.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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