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One year on this exoplanet is just 16 hours long

As the exoplanet is extremely close to its star, the day side temperature could reach up to 3,500 Kelvin, or close to 3300 degrees Celsius.

By: Science Desk | Kochi |
December 2, 2021 4:54:17 pm
hot star exoplanetAn artist’s illustration of a hot Jupiter orbiting close to its host star. (NASA, ESA, L. Hustak (STScI))

Astronomers have found a giant, hot exoplanet that orbits around its star once every 16 hours. Named TOI-2109b, the planet is being pulled towards its star, and “in one or two years, if we are lucky, we may be able to detect how the planet moves closer to its star,” says Dr Ian Wong, lead author of the discovery in a release. “In our lifetime we will not see the planet fall into its star. But give it another 10 million years and this planet might not be there.”

The findings were reported last week in The Astronomical Journal.

TOI-2109b is about five times the mass of Jupiter and is located about 855 light-years away from Earth. “How does a planet as massive and large as Jupiter reach an orbit that is only a few days long? We don’t have anything like this in our solar system and we see this as an opportunity to study them and help explain their existence,” says study co-author Dr Avi Shporer, a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in a release.

The planet’s star, TOI-2109, was observed by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) on May 13, 2020 and the star was identified as the 2,109th “TESS Object of Interest.” The star is about 50 per cent larger in size and mass compared to our Sun.

As the exoplanet is extremely close to its star, the day side temperature could reach up to 3,500 Kelvin, or close to 3300 degrees Celsius. “Meanwhile, the planet’s night side brightness is below the sensitivity of the TESS data, which raises questions about what is really happening there,” says Dr Shporer.

“Is the temperature there very cold, or does the planet somehow take the heat on the day side and transfer it to the night side? We’re at the beginning of trying to answer this question for these ultra hot Jupiters,” he added.

The researchers estimated that the exoplanet is spiraling into its star at a rate of 10 to 750 milliseconds per year.

Lead author Dr Wong says that TOI-2109b constitutes the most extreme subclass of exoplanets. “We have only just started to understand some of the unique physical and chemical processes that occur in their atmospheres — processes that have no analogs in our own solar system,” he adds.

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