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April 18, 2011

Shocking Environments of Hot Jupiters

Following up our discussion in lecture about exoplanets and finding extra-terrestrial life, I came upon this article about "Hot Jupiters." Recall that we believe "Hot Jupiters" are similar to Jovian planets, as they are massive and similarly composed, however, they are similar to Terrestrial planets in that they are very close to their stars. Our best guess for why they reside so close lies in the idea of forming outside the frost line, but migrating in towards the star. Observations of WASP-12, a "Hot Jupiter" planet observed by the SuperWASP project show that these planets may be more unique than we once thought. This planet may have a planetary shock similar to the "bow-shock" that protects Earth's atmosphere. Remember that Earth is the only planet in our solar system to meet the requirements for a magnetic field, however, WASP-12 could potentially have its own magnetosphere. This discovery does not mean WASP-12 could support life, as the environment is far too hot, but it does open up the chance of a distant planet having a magnetic field and should help us to identify habitable zones of where we could find life in the future.

Full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418084015.htm

Posted by sekoch at April 18, 2011 01:24 PM

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