New clues about how hot Jupiters form

(ORDO NEWS) — Ever since the first hot Jupiter was discovered in 1995, astronomers have been trying to figure out how these hot exoplanets formed and how they ended up in their extreme orbits.

Johns Hopkins University scientists have found a way to determine the relative ages of hot Jupiters using new measurements from the Gaia spacecraft, which tracks more than a billion stars.

Called hot Jupiters because the first planet discovered was about the same size and shape as Jupiter in our solar system, these planets are about 20 times closer to their stars than the Earth is to the Sun, resulting in planetary temperatures reaching thousands of degrees Celsius. .

“The question of how these exoplanets form and get into their current orbits is literally the oldest question in our field, and thousands of astronomers have been trying to answer it for over 25 years,” said Kevin Schlaufman, assistant professor at the interface of galactic astronomy. and exoplanets.

Some hot Jupiters have orbits that are well aligned with their star’s rotation, much like the planets in our solar system.

Others have orbits that are offset from the equators of their stars. Scientists have not been able to prove whether the different configurations are the product of different formation processes or a single formation process followed by tidal interaction between planets and stars.

The ability to determine velocities – the directional speeds of stars – was a key factor in determining their age.

When stars are born, they move similarly to each other within the Galaxy. As stars age, their speeds become more and more different. With this, it was proved that there are several ways to form hot Jupiters.

One formation process is fast and leads to the formation of aligned systems, and the other takes place over a longer time and leads to the formation of misaligned systems, these results also suggest that in some systems with less massive host stars, tidal interactions allow hot Jupiters to align the axis rotation of the host star so that it coincides with their orbit.

New data from ground-based and space-based telescopes is helping scientists learn more about exoplanets.

In April, a team of astronomers, including those from Johns Hopkins University, reported results from studying the atmospheres of superhot Jupiters, made possible by observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope.


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