(ORDO NEWS) — Planets can make their parent stars behave younger than they are, according to new research from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The study proves that some planets slow down the aging process of their stars. Although the rejuvenating property of hot Jupiters has been seen before, this result has been documented for the first time.
A hot Jupiter could potentially influence the parent star with tidal forces, causing the star to spin faster. This rapid rotation could make the star more active and produce more of the X-rays commonly associated with stellar youth.
All stars slow down their rotation and decrease in activity as they age. Since it is difficult to accurately determine the age of most stars, it has been difficult for astronomers to know whether a star is unusually active due to the impact of a nearby planet, or if it is really young.
In the new study, the scientists looked at binary systems where the stars are far apart, but only one of them has a hot Jupiter orbiting it.
Astronomers know that just like human twins, stars in binary systems form at the same time.
The distance between the stars is too great for them to affect each other, or for a hot Jupiter to affect another star, so the researchers were able to use a star with no planets in the system as a target.
Scientists studied almost three dozen systems in X-rays (the final sample consisted of 10 systems observed by Chandra and 6 examined by ESA’s XMM-Newton, with several systems observed by both of them).
They found that stars with hot Jupiters tend to be brighter in X-rays and therefore more active than their companion stars without hot Jupiters.
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