NASA Set to Study ‘Star Wars’ Like Planet That Rains Lava
Instead of its scientific name of Super-Earth 55 Cancri e, can we just agree to call it Mustafar?
Mustafar is famously the place where Darth Vader was burnt to a crisp, and later made his home, castle and all.
With the James Webb Space Telescope counting down when it will send its first images, NASA has plans on some places in space that they want to use the telescope to study. One of those places is a planet, currently known as Super-Earth 55 Cancri e (from here on called Mustafar).
Mustafar is located about 40 light years from Earth, and literally rains lava!
Why is Mustafar So Hot?
The reason Mustafar rains lava is because of its distance from the sun-like star that it orbits around. It orbits at a distance of 1.5 million miles away from the star. To give you a better idea, that's about one twenty-fifth the distance of Mercury from our sun. Earth sits at around 93 million miles from our sun.
This also means that Mustafar completes a rotation around its sun MUCH faster than say, an Earth year. In fact, where it takes Earth 365 days to orbit around the sun, Mustafar makes a full loop around its sun-like star in just 18 hours.
As you can imagine, the temperatures on Mustafar are rather warm. Did I just hear you say, "How warm?" 4,417 degrees Farenheit warm!
“With surface temperatures far above the melting point of typical rock-forming minerals, the day side of the planet is thought to be covered in oceans of lava,” NASA wrote in a recent blog post.
All of that being said, NASA plans on studying Mustafar in the not too distant future, using the James Webb Space Telescope, to confirm that the surface of Mustafar heats up, melts, and even vaporizes during the day, forming a very thin atmosphere.
“In the evening, the vapor would cool and condense to form droplets of lava that would rain back to the surface, turning solid again as night falls,” NASA wrote.
“Imagine if Earth were much, much closer to the Sun. So close that an entire year lasts only a few hours,” NASA stated. “So close that gravity has locked one hemisphere in permanent searing daylight and the other in endless darkness. So close that the oceans boil away, rocks begin to melt, and the clouds rain lava.”
Here's hoping we find Darth Vader's castle...but that he stays in a galaxy far, far away.