Hot Jupiter

Hot Jupiters are a class of gas giant exoplanets that are inferred to be physically similar to Jupiter but that have very short orbital periods (P < 10 days). The close proximity to their stars and high surface-atmosphere temperatures resulted in the moniker “hot Jupiters”.

Hot Jupiters are the easiest extrasolar planets to detect via the radial-velocity method, because the oscillations they induce in their parent stars’ motion are relatively large and rapid compared to those of other known types of planets. One of the best-known hot Jupiters is 51 Pegasi b. Discovered in 1995, it was the first extrasolar planet found orbiting a Sun-like star. 51 Pegasi b has an orbital period of about 4 days.

Though there is diversity among hot Jupiters, they do share some common properties.

  • Their defining characteristics are their large masses and short orbital periods, spanning 0.36–11.8 Jupiter masses and 1.3–111 Earth days. The mass cannot be greater than approximately 13.6 Jupiter masses because then the pressure and temperature inside the planet would be high enough to cause deuterium fusion, and the planet would be a brown dwarf.
  • Most have nearly circular orbits (low eccentricities). It is thought that their orbits are circularized by perturbations from nearby stars or tidal forces. 
  • Many have unusually low densities. The lowest one measured thus far is that of TrES-4 at 0.222 g/cm3
  • Usually they are tidally locked, with one side always facing its host star.
  • They are likely to have extreme and exotic atmospheres due to their short periods, relatively long days, and tidal locking. Atmospheric dynamics models predict strong vertical stratification with intense winds and super-rotating equatorial jets driven by radiative forcing and the transfer of heat and momentum. 
  • They appear to be more common around F- and G-type stars and less so around K-type stars. Hot Jupiters around red dwarfs are very rare. 

Theoretical research suggests that hot Jupiters are unlikely to have moons, due to both a small Hill sphere and the tidal forces of the stars they orbit, which would destabilize any satellite’s orbit, the latter process being stronger for larger moons. This means that for most hot Jupiters, stable satellites would be small asteroid-sized bodies. 

Furthermore, the physical evolution of hot Jupiters can determine the final fate of their moons: stall them in semi-asymptotic semimajor axes, or eject them from the system where they may undergo other unknown processes. In spite of this, observations of WASP-12b suggest that it is orbited by at least 1 large exomoon.

In the migration hypothesis, a hot Jupiter forms beyond the frost line, from rock, ice, and gases via the core accretion method of planetary formation. The planet then migrates inwards to the star where it eventually forms a stable orbit. The planet may have migrated inward smoothly via type II orbital migration.

Simulations have shown that the migration of a Jupiter-sized planet through the inner protoplanetary disk (the region between 5 and 0.1 AU from the star) is not as destructive as expected. More than 60% of the solid disk materials in that region are scattered outward, including planetesimals and protoplanets, allowing the planet-forming disk to reform in the gas giant’s wake. In the simulation, planets up to two Earth masses were able to form in the habitable zone after the hot Jupiter passed through and its orbit stabilized at 0.1 AU.

They also exist Ultra-hot Jupiters, which are hot Jupiters with a dayside temperature greater than 2,200 K. In such dayside atmospheres, most molecules dissociate into their constituent atoms and circulate to the nightside where they recombine into molecules again.

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