Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have discovered a new Jupiter-like exoplanet. It’s about the planet super Jovian youngest ever discovered, but has special characteristics that scientists are currently unable to explain.
The celestial object HD 114082 b is located in the constellation Centaurus, 310 light-years from Earth. It orbits a young star, at a distance equal to about half that between the Earth and our Sun. Although it has a size comparable to that of Jupiter, it weighs 8 times greater. That makes it twice as dense as Earth.
This feature is not only unusual, but it doesn’t match what we know about planet formation.
“HD 114082 b is so far the youngest known gas giant with a well-established mass and radius.” said Olga Zakhozhay, the study’s lead author. “Compared to currently accepted models, this planet is two to three times denser than we would expect from a gas giant just 15 million years old.”
The current model of gaseous planet formation is known as “core accretion” (core accretion). The material present in the protoplanetary disk around the star it accumulates, forming a rocky core, which attracts the gases which will then lead to the birth of the gas giant. This process generates heat and is therefore called “hot start“.
There are other models that do not generate heat. For example, in the model “cold start“, the gaseous material around the star cools and contracts. Once it reaches the critical density, it collapses in on itself, forming the planet. A cold young planet would be denser than a hot one.
“It is still too early to abandon the hot start idea.” explained co-author Ralf Launhardt. “All we can say is that we do not fully understand the formation of gas giants.”
While waiting to find out more about the formation of this gas giant, did you know that there are exoplanets with absurd climates? The atmosphere of WASP-39 b it was recently analyzed by the James Webb telescope, revealing its characteristics in detail (a new first for the James Webb Space Telescope).