Record-Breaking Short Year Planet
Astronomers have discovered a new gas giant with the shortest known orbit, breaking yet another record. The world revolves around its star in just 16 hours, yet the dance may come to a stop one day.
The newly discovered exoplanet belongs to a class of objects known as “hot Jupiters” by scientists. These worlds are created similarly to the titans of our solar system, but orbit much closer to their stars, thus the name. Although astronomers have discovered over 400 hot Jupiters to date, researchers claim that none compare to the current find, which has been given the designation TOI-2109b.
“Everything pointed to it being a planet,” said Avi Shporer. “We recognized we had something highly unique and rather rare.” According to a release, he is an exoplanet scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a co-author of the new findings.
Shporer and his colleagues discovered the planet in data collected by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which has orbited Earth since April 2018.
Because TESS glances at one region of the sky for nearly a month before moving on, it’s tailored to find planets that orbit their stars relatively swiftly. TESS doesn’t observe planets directly; instead, it looks for modest, rhythmic brightness dips that indicate a planet approaching the telescope.
What do the Observations say?
These observations not only confirmed that there is a planet orbiting the star but also allowed scientists to measure several critical parameters of TOI-2109b.
TOI-2109b is 5 times more mass and a 3rd the size of the Jupiter, and the particular star is approximate twice the mass and size of the sun. The new planet also seems the second-hottest exoplanet discovered till date. The daytime temperature is nearly 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit (3,300 degrees Celsius), while the nighttime temperature is too weak to be seen by TESS.
That’s also quite intriguing. “Is it freezing there, or does the planet absorbs great amount of heat from the dayside and moves it to the night side?” Shporer remarked. “For these ultrahot Jupiters, we’re only getting started on trying to address this question.”
The most exciting feature of TOI-2109b for scientists, however, may be the alteration in its orbit:
- The planet seems to be crawling nearer to its star
- The fastest rate astronomers have witnessed to date
- 10 and 750 milliseconds per year is the speed
That’s not fast enough for scientists to believe they’ll be able to track the planet’s fate. TESS, on the other hand, is still at work and will return to TOI-2109 in May and June 2022.