Thursday, December 2, 2021

Record exoplanet with insanely extreme orbit completely doomed

The newly discovered exoplanet is one of the most extreme ever discovered.

Its name is TOI-2109b, the absolute beast of the gas giant, which is 1.35 times larger and 5 times the mass of Jupiter. Oh, and it has a death wish: it’s in such a close orbit with its star that it rotates once every 16 hours.

It is the closest orbit we have ever discovered for a gas giant, so close that it moves closer and closer to the star along its trajectory of destruction, with half of it scorched by the heat of its host star. It is believed that TOI-2109b can reach temperatures of 3500 Kelvin (3227 degrees Celsius or 5840 degrees Fahrenheit) during the daytime. It’s hotter than some of the stars.

It is the second hottest exoplanet ever discovered, placing it in the superhot Jupiter category. Astronomers hope he will tell us more about how these extreme exoplanets came to be, as well as the interactions between a star and an exoplanet in a dangerous close orbit.

“In one or two years, if we’re lucky, we might be able to detect the planet approaching its star,” said astronomer Yang Wong of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “During our lifetime we will not see the planet fall on its star. But give it another 10 million years, and this planet may not exist. “

Hot and super-hot Jupiters are a fascinating subcategory of exoplanets.

As the name suggests, these are massive gas giants similar to Jupiter. However, unlike Jupiter, they orbit their star incredibly close, in orbits of less than 10 days (for comparison, Jupiter’s orbital period is more than 12 years). At such close distances, these exoplanets are indeed very hot and often vaporize from extreme heat.

Hot Jupiters are a puzzle in modern planetary formation models. A gas giant cannot form so close to its star because gravity, radiation, and strong stellar winds must keep the gas from accumulating.

However, we found hundreds. Astronomers currently believe that these exoplanets form further away from their host stars and migrate inward.

“From the very beginning of exoplanetary science, hot Jupiters were considered eccentrics,” said astrophysicist Avi Sporer of the Kavli Institute of Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT. “How does a planet as massive and large as Jupiter reach an orbit just a few days long? We do not have anything like this in our solar system, and we see this as an opportunity to study them and help explain their existence. “

To piece together the evolutionary puzzle of a hot Jupiter, astronomers are looking for as many as possible, hoping to catch them at different stages of their lives. TOI-2109b is the closest we have found to die from orbital decay.

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A diagram of the change in the light of a star during the rotation of an exoplanet. (J. Wynn, arXiv, 2014)

It was discovered by NASA’s TESS Space Telescope, which looks for small, evenly spaced dips in the star’s light. This is one of the telltale signs that something is orbiting a star.

The amount of light from a star can tell us the size of a rotating body. Small shifts in the light of a star as it moves in place under the gravitational pull of an exoplanet can tell us its mass.

TOI 2109b orbits a yellow-white star 1.7 times and 1.4 times the mass of the Sun, about 855 light years away. TOI 2109b and its sun are so close that they are only 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) apart. This is only 1.6 percent of the distance between the Sun and Earth.

In such close proximity, the exoplanet is likely tidally tied to its parent star, with one side constantly facing the star. This side, studied as the exoplanet rotates and disappears from view, reaches an insane temperature of 3,500 Kelvin, but the night side facing away from the star is a little more difficult to understand.

“The brightness of the planet’s night side is below the sensitivity of the TESS data, which raises questions about what is actually happening there,” Sporer said.

“The temperature is very low there, or is the planet somehow taking in heat from the day side and transferring it to the night side? We are at the beginning of an attempt to answer this question for these super-hot Jupiters. “

The research team was able to measure the speed at which TOI 2109b is approaching its star. It is approaching 10-750 milliseconds per year. This is the fastest inhalation rate of any hot Jupiter that we have detected to date.

The team hopes that future exploration of TOI-2109b, possibly with the soon-to-launch James Webb Space Telescope (knocking on wood), will reveal some of the stresses that hot Jupiters go through as they make their death spiral.

“Super-hot Jupiters like TOI-2109b are the most extreme subclass of exoplanets,” Wong said.

“We have just begun to understand some of the unique physical and chemical processes occurring in their atmosphere – processes that have no analogues in our solar system.”

Research published in Astronomical journal

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