Category Archives: Exo-Planet News

Discovery of first binary-binary calls solar system formation into question

Credit: University of Florida   Everything we know about the formation of solar systems might be wrong, says University of Florida astronomy professor Jian Ge and his postdoc, Bo Ma. They’ve discovered the first “binary–binary” – two massive companions around one star in a close binary system, one so-called giant planet and one brown dwarf, or “failed star” The first, called MARVELS-7a, is 12 times the mass of Jupiter, while the second, MARVELS-7b, has 57 times the mass of Jupiter. Astronomers believe that planets in our solar system formed from a collapsed disk-like gaseous cloud, with our largest planet, Jupiter, buffered from smaller planets by the asteroid belt. In the new binary system, HD 87646, the two giant companions are close to the minimum mass for burning deuterium and hydrogen, meaning that they have accumulated far more dust and gas than what a typical collapsed disk-like gaseous cloud can provide..
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Observations of an extreme-weather planet raise questions about hot Jupiters’ origins

HD 80606 b (rendered here) stands out amid the hundreds of exoplanets discovered recently because of its highly eccentric orbit. Researchers have studied how the planet’s temperature changes as it approaches, sweeps by, and moves away from its star. Credit: Courtesy of the researchers and JPL For centuries, the solar system was viewed as a standard blueprint for planetary systems in the universe, with a star (our sun) at the center of a circular track, and a planet orbiting within each lane. Smaller, rockier planets fill the interior lanes, and larger gas giants orbit further out. But over the last 20 years, more powerful telescopes have revealed, far from our solar system, a host of exotic systems with completely unexpected configurations. “Hot Jupiters,” for example, are massive “roaster” planets that circle scorchingly close to their stars. Scientists have puzzled over how these gas giants, which supposedly form far from their.
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Investigating the mystery of migrating ‘hot Jupiters’

The turbulent atmosphere of a hot, gaseous planet known as HD 80606b is shown in this simulation based on data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech   The last decade has seen a bonanza of exoplanet discoveries. Nearly 2,000 exoplanets—planets outside our solar system—have been confirmed so far, and more than 5,000 candidate exoplanets have been identified. Many of these exotic worlds belong to a class known as “hot Jupiters.” These are gas giants like Jupiter but much hotter, with orbits that take them feverishly close to their stars. At first, hot Jupiters were considered oddballs, since we don’t have anything like them in our own solar system. But as more were found, in addition to many other smaller planets that orbit very closely to their stars, our solar system started to seem like the real misfit. “We thought our solar system was normal, but that’s not so much.
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Most eccentric planet ever known flashes astronomers with reflected light

An artist’s rendering shows the planet HD 20782, the most eccentric planet ever known, passing its star in close orbit. Credit: NASA     Led by San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane, a team of researchers has spotted an extrasolar planet about 117 light-years from earth that boasts the most eccentric orbit yet seen. What’s more, Kane and his colleagues were able to detect a signal of reflected light from the planet known as HD 20782—a “flash” of starlight bouncing off the eccentric planet’s atmosphere as it made its closest orbital approach to its star. The discovery was announced online Feb. 28, 2016 in The Astrophysical Journal. In this case, “eccentric” doesn’t refer to a state of mind, but instead describes how elliptical a planet’s orbit is around its star. While the planets in our solar system have nearly circular orbits, astronomers have discovered several extrasolar planets with highly.
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Hubble reveals diversity of exoplanet atmosphere: Largest ever comparative study ‘solves missing water mystery’

Artist’s impression of the ten hot Jupiter exoplanets studied by David Sing and his colleagues. From top left to to lower left these planets are WASP-12b, WASP-6b, WASP-31b, WASP-39b, HD 189733b, HAT-P-12b, WASP-17b, WASP-19b, HAT-P-1b and HD 209458b. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA   Astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope to study the atmospheres of ten hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets in detail, the largest number of such planets ever studied. The team was able to discover why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected—a long-standing mystery. The results are published in Nature. To date, astronomers have discovered nearly 2000 planets orbiting other stars. Some of these planets are known as hot Jupiters, hot, gaseous planets with characteristics similar to those of Jupiter. They orbit very close to their stars, making their surface hot, and the planets tricky to study in.
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