Friday, October 17, 2008

One Hot Planet

Astonomers have now discovered many "hot Jupiters," gas giants orbiting very close to their sun. On May 9, 2007 Hot Gas reported object HC 149206b orbiting its star in 2.877 days with a surface temperature of 2040 degrees Celsius. On August 7, 2007 Milkshake Planets reported that TrES-4 has 1/3 the density of liquid water but a surface temperature of 2300 degrees!

This week the UK Wide Area Search for Planets has found WASP 12-b by occultation of a star 800 light-years away. The planet is 50 percent more massive than Jupiter, and orbits in only 1.1 days! The temperature of WASP 12-b is calculated to be 2250 degrees Celsius. How such worlds can exist without boiling away is a challenge to theories of planet formation.

If giant planets formed around singularities, presence of the Black Hole would stabilise their structure and prevent them from evaporating. Since the time of Laplace, astronomers have theorised that planets somehow condensed from rotating clouds of gas. In such a nebula, tiny Black Holes would have seeded planetary formation. In the case of Jupiter, an internal singularity would explain both internal heat and magnetic field. The interiors of gas giants are excellent places to seek Black Holes.

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