Artificial lava has been created to enable Webb to study exoplanets

Artificial lava has been created to enable Webb to study exoplanets

Researchers at Cornell University have modelled and synthesized lava that can be formed in alien worlds, and the primary catalogue includes 16 types of surface areas of volcanic worlds with fire landscapes and magma oceans.

To compile the catalogue, scientists identified the composition of possible rocky mantle planets that could form around different stars. Then using thermodynamic modelling, the authors identified the composition of the surface at different melting temperatures.

Scientists have produced synthetic lava in laboratory furnaces of materials corresponding to these compositions. After heating to super-high temperatures corresponding to planets, researchers have cooled down the composition, simulating lava emissions during the volcanic eruption. The data obtained show what materials will be on the planet's surface.

Scientists have measured a possible spectrum of infrared reflections from such surfaces at different stages of cooling and for different species and planets. The catalogue created will help interpret the observations made by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Different types of materials leave traces in the radiation spectrum of the light reflected from them. On the basis of such spectral characteristics, scientists will be able to determine to which type the planet belongs, how it has evolved and what it consists of.