Astronomers have spotted three new exoplanets orbiting dangerously close to their parent stars, on the verge of extinction.
Three exoplanets, named TOI-2337b, TOI-4329b and TOI-2669b, were detected using NASA’s transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the Echelle High Resolution Spectrometer (HIRES) of the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
“These planets are in such extreme places that less than 10 years ago no one really thought they really existed,” said Samuel Grunblatt, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History, during a news conference on Thursday (13 January) was held by the American Astronomical Society. The new research was to be presented at a conference on organization canceled due to high COVID-19 rate.
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The newly discovered alien worlds are classified as gas giants, with masses between 0.5 and 1.7 times larger than Jupiter’s. The planets also vary greatly in size and density, suggesting that they have different origins, according to Statement from the WM Keck Observatory.
“These discoveries are key to understanding the new frontier in the study of exoplanets: how planetary systems evolve over time,” Grunblatt said in a statement by Keck. “These observations offer new windows into planets approaching the end of their lives, before they are swallowed up by host stars.”
As the star evolves and enters the last 10% of its life, it can reel in nearby planets. In turn, a change in the orbit of the planets around the parent star could destabilize the entire planetary system or cause the planets to collide as they approach each other. In addition, as the planets spiral closer to their host stars, they heat up, which can cause atmospheric changes, such as swelling. This type of interplanetary interaction may explain the different densities between the newly discovered extraterrestrial worlds, the statement said.
Observations of TOI-2337b, TOI-4329b, and TOI-2669b also revealed that the three exoplanets have some of the shortest orbits ever discovered around a subdiva or giant dying stars. For example, the orbital period of TOI-2337b suggests that the exoplanet will be swallowed by a host star in less than a million years, which is earlier than any other known planet, according to the study.
“We expect to find tens to hundreds of these evolved transit planetary systems with TESS, providing new details on how planets interact, inflate and migrate around stars, including those like our Sun,” Nick Saunders, co-author of the study and graduate a student at the Hawaii University Institute of Astronomy, the statement said.
Therefore, studying planetary systems such as TOI-2337b, TOI-4329b and TOI-2669b can provide a better understanding of our own the evolution of the solar system, the researchers said.
Further observations by TESS are needed to determine the rate at which the newly discovered exoplanets twist into their host stars. NASA was recently launched James Webb Space Telescope it can also help identify the composition of the planet’s atmosphere and, in turn, where the planets originated and how they ended up in such close orbit around their parent star.
“Rapid star changes combined with the short orbital periods of these planets imply that host stars should consume these planets faster than almost all other known planets,” Grunblatt said during a news conference. “Continuing to study these systems could tell us how giant planets move during their lifetime, how it affects their smaller neighbors, and then inflates them during a fiery deadly dive into their host stars.”
Their findings were accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal.
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