Astronomers have discovered a potentially habitable exoplanet, LP 791-18 d, that could be covered in volcanoes, creating an atmosphere and possibly even liquid water. The planet was found using data from the TESS and Spitzer space telescopes, and further observations were made with ground-based telescopes.
LP 791-18 d is Earth-sized and rotates bound around its star, always facing the same side. It interacts with its neighboring planet, LP 791-18 c, in a complex way, causing distortion and deformation during approaches that could lead to volcanic activity.
While the side facing the star may be too hot for liquid water, the volcanoes could create an atmosphere that allows for water to condense on the nightside. This could make the emergence of Earth-like life possible.
However, these are all assumptions that need to be verified by further observations. The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to observe LP 791-18 c, and the research group behind the discovery is advocating for LP 791-18 d to also be observed.
Despite being discovered using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which was shut down three years ago, the data collected is still publicly available. The discovery and analysis of LP 791-18 d have been published in the scientific journal Nature.