Our Galaxy Is Teeming With Hot, Jupiter-Like Planets
According to Keith Cowling of Astrobiology.com, the Spitzer space telescope and more precisely, the things it is finding, are giving NASA scientists a real headache.
There are well in excess of 800 exoplanets in our galaxy and while many of them are easily categorized, others are a just that little bit too versatile to be easily pigeon-holed. One such group are those that closely resemble our solar system's gas giant, Jupiter, but with one distinct difference. Unlike Jupiter, which orbits at a relatively long distance from the Sun, these planets, also known as Roasters, orbit extremely close to their fiery hosts. The result of this combination of gas giants in a close solar orbit is a massively varying degree of conditions, which makes it very difficult for scientists to fit them into their current models.
A recent observation of one of these 'Roasters', named Hat-P-2b found the planet orbiting it's star at distances as close as 2.8 million miles away, which when you consider Earth's average distance to the Sun in around 90 million miles, is extremely close. However Hat-P-2b's most interesting characteristic is it's elongated orbit which sees the planet's distance from its star vary from 2.8 million miles at its shortest, to almost 10 million miles at its longest.
Results are still being analyzed, but initial findings show that as this 'hot jupiter' makes its close approach to its star, it takes roughly one day for it to reach maximum temperature. However, as it draws away from the star, it take almost 5 days to cool back down.