“Hot Jupiters” may not be in orbit alone

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Summary of observed Kepler TTV rates versus simulated TTV recovery rates to provide a final occurrence rate of hot, hot Jupiters with nearby companions. Panel (a): Our complete sample in the periodic space, shown in the context of Kepler’s planetary candidates. Panel (b): Distribution of systems with Jupiter-sized planets showing detectable TTV. Panel (c): Simulated recovery rate of Jupiter-mass planets with observed TTV. Panel (d): Final combined result for the occurrence rate of Jupiter-sized planets with nearby companions as a function of orbital period. Credit: The astronomical journal (2023). DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/acbf3f

Research by an Indiana University astronomer challenges long-held beliefs about the isolation of “hot Jupiters” and proposes a new mechanism for understanding exoplanet evolution.

While our Jupiter is far from the sun, hot Jupiters are gas giant planets that orbit stars outside our solar system for an orbital period of less than 10 days. Previous studies have suggested that they rarely have nearby companion planets, leading scientists to believe that hot Jupiters formed and evolved through a violent process that ejected other planets from the area as they approached their host stars. The research team’s findings reveal that hot Jupiters don’t always orbit alone.

“Our research shows that at least a fraction of hot Jovian planets cannot form through a violent process,” said Songhu Wang, assistant professor of astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences. “This is a significant contribution to advancing our understanding of hot Jupiter formation, which can help us learn more about our solar system.”

The study was published in The astronomical journaland Wang presented the research findings at the June 2023 meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The researchers analyzed the entire four-year data set for warm, hot Jupiters from NASA’s Kepler mission. Hot Jupiters have a longer orbital period ranging from 10 to 300 days. The researchers used variations in transit times to determine that at least 12% of hot Jovian planets and 70% of hot Jovian planets have a nearby planetary companion orbiting their host stars.

Wang and his collaborators combined their findings with existing observational constraints to propose a new framework for explaining the evolution of hot and hot Jupiters and why some have companion planets. They determined that the composition of the hot and hot Jupiter systems depends on the presence of gas giants in the system, which affects how much the planets interact and migrate.

The results provide a starting point for future research on exoplanets and planets in our solar system.

“The ultimate goal for astronomers is to set our solar system in the bigger picture ‘Are we unique?'” Wang said. “This helps us understand why we don’t have a hot Jupiter in our solar system.”

Other collaborators are Dong-Hong Wu, professor at the Physics Department of Anhui Normal University, and Malena Rice, 51 Pegasi b Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and incoming professor at Yale University.

Wang has long been interested in the configurations and demographics of exoplanets. He uses observational research to try to understand its dynamics and origins, helping astronomers better understand how our solar system fits into a larger cosmic context.

More information:
Dong-Hong Wu et al, Evidence for Hidden Nearby Companions to Hot Jupiters, The astronomical journal (2023). DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/acbf3f

About the magazine:
Astronomical Journal

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