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Beyond Earthly Skies

Inflated Hot Jupiters Spun Out From Stellar Mergers

6 May 2015, 22:00 UTC
Inflated Hot Jupiters Spun Out From Stellar Mergers
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Over the years, wide area transit surveys have revealed a population of inflated hot Jupiters. These planets are basically Jupiter-mass planets that have remarkably large diameters and orbit very close to their host stars. It has been proposed that inflated hot Jupiters can form when stars in tightly-bound binary systems merger. The magnetic activity of stars in a tight binary system can act as a “brake” and cause the binary system to gradually lose angular momentum. This process brings the 2 stars closer to each other, further accelerating the rate of angular momentum loss. Eventually the 2 stars merge. The merging process can launch a substantial amount of material into orbit which settles into a disk around the newly formed star. Such a disk of material is known as an excretion disk.Material in the excretion disk quickly coalescences to form one or more Jupiter-mass planets around the star. These planets, where newly formed, are known as inflated hot Jupiters. The reason for the term “inflated” is because these planets are still hot, and it will take time for them to cool and contract. Also, they are called “hot Jupiters” due to the intense stellar irradiation on their daysides as these ...

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