Extremely Hot Planet Found Outside Solar System
Astronomers have made an exciting discovery in the cosmos that promises to offer us remarkable new insights into the atmospheres of hot Jupiters and the intricate evolution of planets and stars.
Hot Jupiters are a fascinating class of exoplanets that bear a striking resemblance to our own Jupiter in terms of physical characteristics. However, what sets them apart is their unique orbital arrangement – they snuggle up much closer to their parent stars, leading to scorching surface temperatures.
Despite the considerable interest they hold for astrophysicists and space enthusiasts alike, studying these exoplanets has proven to be quite a formidable task. The primary challenge stems from the intense glare emitted by the nearby stars that these hot Jupiters orbit.
A celestial system located approximately 1,400 light years away has recently caught the attention of scientists. This intriguing system consists of two celestial bodies and came to light thanks to data gathered by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
What sets this newly discovered system apart is the presence of an object orbiting a star, reminiscent of a hot Jupiter, but with a twist – it’s significantly hotter. Dr. Na’ama Hallakoun, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science, explains, “We’ve pinpointed an object orbiting a star that resembles a hot Jupiter, but it’s the hottest one we’ve ever encountered, boasting temperatures about 2,000 degrees hotter than the surface of our own Sun.”
What makes this discovery particularly exciting is that it deviates from the norm of hot Jupiters. Typically, these planets are notoriously difficult to study due to their close proximity to their parent stars, which creates a blinding glare. However, in this case, the star-orbiting object is considerably larger than its host star, which happens to be a whopping 10,000 times fainter than a standard star. This unique characteristic allows scientists a better opportunity to study this intriguing celestial body.
The binary system at the heart of this discovery is a combination of two “dwarfs.” One is a white dwarf, the residual core of a star like our Sun after it has consumed all of its nuclear fuel. The other is a brown dwarf, an object whose mass falls somewhere between that of a gas giant like Jupiter and a small star. Brown dwarfs are often referred to as “failed stars” because they lack the necessary mass to sustain nuclear fusion but are dense enough to resist being pulled apart by their stellar companions.
In this particular celestial system, the brown dwarf is exhibiting a fascinating phenomenon called “tidal locking.” This means that one side of the planet-like object is permanently facing the star it orbits, resulting in some truly extreme temperature differences between its two hemispheres.
On the dayside of this celestial body, temperatures soar to a scorching range of 7,250 to 9,800 Kelvin, which is roughly equivalent to 7,000 to 9,500 degrees Celsius. To put that in perspective, this is hotter than any giant planet we’ve ever come across. Meanwhile, on the nightside, things cool down considerably, with temperatures ranging from 1,300 to 3,000 Kelvin (about 1,000 to 2,700 degrees Celsius).
What makes this discovery particularly exciting is the opportunity it presents to study the impact of extreme ultraviolet radiation on planetary atmospheres. This radiation plays a pivotal role in various astrophysical environments and can have significant effects on the evolution of both stars and planets.
Looking ahead, scientists are eager to conduct future high-resolution spectroscopic observations of this hot Jupiter-like system. These observations hold the promise of shedding light on how these highly irradiated conditions shape the structure of its atmosphere. This knowledge could contribute significantly to our understanding of exoplanets scattered throughout the vast reaches of the universe.