August 7, 2022

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NASA |  Astronomers discover a planet shaped like a rugby ball |  NNDC |  technology

NASA | Astronomers discover a planet shaped like a rugby ball | NNDC | technology

The European Space Agency’s Exoplanet mission revealed that an exoplanet orbiting its host star has a distorted shape that looks more like a rugby ball than a ball.

This is the first time that the distortion of an exoplanet has been detected, providing new insights into the internal structure of these star-embracing planets. who – which It is a statement.

Planet, known as WASP-103bIt is located in the constellation Hercules. It has been distorted by the powerful tidal forces between the planet and its host star. WASP-103, It is about 200 degrees hotter and 1.7 times larger than the Sun.

Using new data from the space telescope Khufu From who – which, along with data already obtained by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. NASAAstronomers have now been able to discover how the tidal forces of the exoplanet WASP-103b warp, transforming its appearance from the usual sphere to a rugby ball.

Khufu Transit measures exoplanets: the drop in light that occurs when a planet passes in front of its star from our viewpoint. Studying the shape of the light curve usually reveals details about the planet, such as its size. high precision of Khufu Combined with the target flexibility, which allows the satellite to return to the target and monitor multiple transits, it has allowed astronomers to detect the small signal from WASP-103b’s tidal warps. This distinctive signature can be used to reveal more about the planet.

“It is unbelievable that Khufu was able to detect such a small deformity.”Jacques Lascar of the Paris Observatory, Paris University of Sciences and Letters, and co-author of the research, says in a statement. “This is the first time that such an analysis has been done, and we can hope that observations over a longer period of time will enhance this observation and lead to a better understanding of the planet’s internal structure.”

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The team was able to use WASP-103b’s transient light curve to derive a variable, the love number, which measures how mass is distributed within the planet. Understanding how mass is distributed can reveal details about a planet’s internal structure.

The resistance of the material to deformation depends on its composition. Susana Barros, of the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço and University of Porto, Portugal, and lead author of the research explains. “For example, here on Earth we have tides due to the Moon and the Sun, but we can only see tides in the oceans. The rocky part doesn’t move much. By measuring how much the planet is deformed, we can tell how much it is rocky, gaseous or watery.”

The Love number for WASP-103b is similar to that of Jupiter, which initially indicates that the internal structure is similar, despite the fact that WASP-103b has twice the radius.

“In principle, we would expect a planet with a mass 1.5 times the mass of Jupiter to be roughly the same size, so WASP-103b must be inflated due to heating of its star and possibly other mechanisms.s”, Dice Barros.

“If we can confirm the details of its internal structure through future observations, perhaps we can better understand what makes it so inflated. Knowing the size of this exoplanet’s core will also be important to a better understanding of how it formed.”

Since the uncertainty in Love’s number is still very high, future observations using Khufu and the space telescope will be needed. James Webb (Web) for details. Webb’s very high resolution will improve measurements of tidal deformation of exoplanets, allowing for a better comparison of the so-called “hot Jupiters” and the giant planets of the solar system.

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There is another mystery surrounding it as well WASP-103b. Tidal interactions between a star and a very nearby Jupiter-sized planet generally shorten the planet’s orbital period, making it progressively closer to the star before it is finally swallowed up by the parent star. However, measurements from WASP-103b seem to indicate that the orbital period can increase and the planet is slowly moving away from the star. This may indicate that something other than tidal forces is the dominant factor affecting the planet.

Paros He and his colleagues considered other possible scenarios, such as the effect of the host’s companion star on the system’s dynamics or the planet’s orbit being slightly elliptical. They couldn’t confirm these scenarios, but they couldn’t rule them out either. It is also possible that the orbital period is actually decreasing rather than increasing.

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