It is the first planet that does not have the traditional spherical shape. Its name is WASP-103b , it is located in the constellation of Hercules and is almost twice the size of Jupiter (1.7 times larger than the Sun). It is also 200 degrees hotter than our Sun.
Why is it oval in shape instead of spherical?
Astronomers from the European Space Agency think it’s probably due to strong tidal forces between the planet and its host star , which is similar to how our moon exerts tidal forces on Earth. And considering how close the planet is to its star, since it completes an orbit in less than a day, it follows that these forces have given it this rugby ball shape. Being so close would cause monumental tides.
The Sun, our star, also has a small but significant effect on the tides, however , it is too far from the Earth to cause this type of deformation on our planet.
The researchers used new data from ESA’s Cheops Space Telescope (the first dedicated mission to study nearby bright stars already known to host exoplanets), combined with information previously obtained by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA’s Spitzer Spacecraft to detect how these colossal tidal forces warp the planet WASP-103b.
“It is amazing that Cheops was able to reveal this small deformation. This is the first time such an analysis has been done, and we can hope that observation over a longer time interval will strengthen this observation and lead to a better understanding of the internal structure of the planet” , explains Jacques Laskar of the Paris Observatory, Université Paris Sciences et Lettres, and co-author of the research, whose results are published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The planet is warped and inflated
The results also suggest that the internal structures of WASP-103b and Jupiter are similar, even though WASP-103b is twice as large. “In principle, we would expect a planet with 1.5 times the mass of Jupiter to be about the same size. WASP-103b must therefore be highly inflated due to heating from its nearby star and perhaps other mechanisms,” Monika clarifies. Lendl, a professor of astronomy at the University of Geneva and co-author of the study.
“This study is an excellent example of all the many questions that exoplanet scientists can address with Cheops, illustrating the importance of this flexible follow-up mission,” says Kate Isaak, Cheops Project Scientist at ESA.
We will have to wait for new observations from both Cheops and the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope to tease out the exact details of this amazing warping, which would improve our understanding of these so-called hot Jupiters and allow for a better comparison between them and the giant planets of the past. solar system , astronomers say.
Referencia: S. C. C. Barros et al, Detection of the tidal deformation of WASP-103b at 3 σ with CHEOPS, Astronomy & Astrophysics (2021). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202142196