Astronomers discover the first non-circular exoplanet

(ORDO NEWS) — The hot Jupiter WASP-103b orbits very close to its star and is so tidal that it deforms into an elongated rugby ball.

Observations from the European space telescope Cheops have shown that hot Jupiter WASP-103b is under such a powerful tidal force from its star that it has acquired an elongated shape rather than a spherical one.

This is the first evidence of the existence of such deformed exoplanets, which scientists report in an article published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Their work is also described in a press release from the European Space Agency (ESA).

The sun-like star WASP-103 is located about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Hercules. In 2014, the exoplanet WASP-103b was discovered in her . It is ” super hot Jupiter ” – a gas giant that orbits so close to its star that it makes a complete revolution in just 22 hours, and its temperature rises above 2500 Kelvin (more than 2200 degrees Celsius).

There is simply nowhere closer: calculations show that if the orbit of WASP-103b was only slightly smaller, the planet would be destroyed by tidal forces .

These forces arise when sufficiently large bodies move in an inhomogeneous gravitational field.

They create tides in Earth‘s oceans, deform and heat Jupiter’s moons, and in the vicinity of black holes can reach such magnitude that they can easily stretch and tear entire stars.

And on WASP-103b, moving in a very tight orbit, tidal forces are powerful enough to deform the entire planet into a flattened rugby ball.

Astronomers discover the first non circular exoplanet 2

To find out, scientists used data from the American telescopes Hubble and Spitzer, as well as the European “hunter for exoplanets” Cheops, which searches for distant worlds by the transit method – registering weak changes in the brightness of a star during those periods when the planets pass between it and us.

The nature and shape of these changes make it possible to estimate the size and mass of the exoplanet. In the case of the WASP-103b, the Cheops’ extreme precision revealed that the light curve changes in a slightly peculiar way, indicating deformation.

WASP-103b weighs about one and a half times more than Jupiter and is just as much larger in size. This makes the planet “loose” enough for the tidal forces of the star to change its entire geometric shape.

According to scientists, this is the first known case of such a deformation of an exoplanet, although it has yet to be finally confirmed.

To do this, they hope to conduct additional observations on Cheops, as well as the new James Webb Space Telescope.


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