Can you imagine a planet that is hotter than molten lava?
Welcome to TOI-1431b, a planet so close to its sun that it orbits every two and a half days. Unlike Mercury, the planet closest to the sun in our solar system, this planet is three times as large as Jupiter.
You can read more fascinating details in this article, but take a moment to expand your thoughts beyond this one example. There must be at least one hundred billion planets in the Milky Way alone, and I’d imagine they come in all flavors and sizes. TOI-1431b is considered “rare” I suppose in what we’ve discovered so far, but haven’t we only scratched the very surface of what’s out there?
Life as we know it could not survive on a planet with a temperature approaching the exhaust from a rocket engine (daytime temps of 3,000K, which is approximately 2,700 degrees C), but does that mean some form of life can’t exist? I would respectfully submit we are not advanced enough to make that call.
Does it matter whether or not life exists on all of these many different worlds? In other words, does the potential of life define the usefulness of a planet? I’d answer that with a resounding “no.” Planets, like suns and other cosmic bodies, are here for reasons we still do not comprehend. The reason could be they are here without purpose or function simply because a random event spewed out enough solid matter to eventually form into a spinning ball, and that is reason enough. Perhaps we are the anomaly, sentient beings with enough curiosity to wonder about questions that have no answer to begin with, though that does not stop us from trying to find them anyway.
But regardless of the reason, from the perspective of a science-fiction and fantasy author such as myself, the playing field is open. The options are endless! Big planets, small planets, hot, cold, with life, without life, natural disasters, serene and immobile–the only limit is the imagination.
So what would you, the science-fiction and fantasy reader, think is an ideal world, and how would you build it? Oceans and jungles, or rocky and barren? Intelligent life or simple existence, blissfully peaceful in their incurious ignorance? Suggest to me a world, and perhaps I will write about it! Please comment below.