- Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet orbiting a cool star that completes a year in just 3.14 days.
- The nickname “Pi Planet” or “Pi Earth”, the approximate earth-large world is extremely hot.
- Its surface temperature is about 350 degrees Fahrenheit … which is an excellent temperature for baking pie.
You do not have to be a complete math nerd to appreciate pi. Pi is a constant used in mathematics and many calculations, and it is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It never changes, which is why it is so useful in mathematics, but it also made the leap to pop culture. “Pi Day”
Pi goes much further than that (forever, actually), but the first three digits are what are most often used in simple math and in cultural references. Now astronomy is starting to come into play, as scientists including scientists from MIT have discovered a planet about the size of Earth orbiting its star every (you guessed it) 3.14 days. It’s officially the pi planet.
Normally, the discovery of an exoplanet would not be newsworthy on its own. Scientists using powerful sky-scanning hardware have discovered more exoplanets than they already know what to do with, but this one is definitely a little special. The discovery of the planet is the subject of a new paper published in Astronomical journal.
The scientists used data from the Kepler Space Telescope to make the discovery and quickly realized that its orbital period looked familiar on paper. The planet itself is about the size of Earth and is considered rocky. The star it orbits is a dwarf star, which is calm and much cooler than stars like our own sun.
However, the fact that the star is small and cool does not mean that the conditions on the planet – formally called K2-315b – are pleasant. In fact, the pi planet is definitely not a nice place to be. With an orbit of only 3.14 days, the planet is incredibly close to its star. It orbits the burning ball at a speed of about 181,000 miles per hour, and its proximity to the star means that the temperature on the surface is probably around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In one last bit of fun, the scientists point out that the surface temperature of the planet can be perfect for baking pie.
Finding massive gas giants in space is easily peasy, but smaller planets are harder to detect. Researchers say it would be possible to find more Earth-like (and even Mars-like) worlds in the near future.
“There will be more interesting planets in the future, just in time for [the James Webb Space Telescope], a telescope designed to study the atmosphere of these alien worlds, ”said Prajwal Niraula, lead author of the study. “With better algorithms, hopefully one day, we can look for smaller planets, even as small as Mars.”