Scientists have figured out what happens to hot Jupiters when their stars become red giants

(ORDO NEWS) — Using advanced 3D modeling techniques, a team of researchers led by the Compact Object Mergers: Population Astrophysics and Statistics (COMPAS) consortium has studied how red giants expand to engulf hot Jupiters.

The scientists also found out why in some binary systems there are rapidly rotating stars with an unusual chemical composition.

As Mike Lau, one of the authors of the study, explained, the topic of hot Jupiter absorption is of interest to astrophysicists because they believe it could explain some of the “weird” stars that have been observed in our galaxy – rapidly rotating and chemically enriched giants.

Scientists believe that as stars expand into red giants, planets that used to orbit at a safe distance begin to spiral toward the center of the star, mixing up stellar material in the process.

“This is one way to explain the observed rapidly rotating giant stars. In addition, any planetary material that breaks off during the helical rotation can change the chemical composition of the surface of the stars.

This may help us understand why there is an anomalous abundance of lithium in a small fraction of stars.

Finally, we may be able to directly detect this process by looking for stars that swelled and brightened from eating the planet, although we should be very lucky to be able to catch them in the act, ”said Lau.

The ability to directly observe these phenomena will be made possible by next-generation space telescopes such as James Webb and ground-based telescopes with 30-meter primary mirrors.

Meanwhile, Lau and his colleagues ran a series of 3D fluid simulations that recreated the absorption process.

“A key result of our simulations is that a hot Jupiter can lose much of its material due to friction as it spirals towards the star,” Lau said.

In the future, the researchers hope that further advances in computing technology will enable higher resolution simulations.

If their results are confirmed, they could explain the phenomenon of rapidly rotating stars with anomalous chemical compositions in binary systems.


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