From University of Arizona (US) : “Astronomers Provide ‘Field Guide’ to Exoplanets Known as Hot Jupiters” 

From University of Arizona (US)

10.21.21

Media contact:
Daniel Stolte
Science Writer, University Communications
stolte@arizona.edu
520-626-4402

Researcher contact
Megan Mansfield
NASA Sagan Fellow, Steward Observatory
meganmansfield@arizona.edu

1
This artist’s impression shows a hot Jupiter planet orbiting close to one of the stars in the rich old star cluster Messier 67, located between 2,500 and 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cancer (The Crab). Credit: L. Calçada /European Southern Observatory [Observatoire européen austral][Europäische Südsternwarte](EU)(CL).

Hot Jupiters – giant gas planets that race around their host stars in extremely tight orbits – have become a little bit less mysterious thanks to a new study combining theoretical modeling with observations by the Hubble Space Telescope.

While previous studies mostly focused on individual worlds classified as “hot Jupiters” due to their superficial similarity to the gas giant in our own solar system, the new study is the first to look at a broader population of the strange worlds. Published in Nature Astronomy, the study led by a University of Arizona researcher, provides astronomers with an unprecedented “field guide” to hot Jupiters and offers insight into planet formation in general.

Although astronomers think that only about 1 in 10 stars host an exoplanet in the hot Jupiter class, the peculiar planets make up a sizeable portion of exoplanets discovered to date, due to the fact that they are bigger and brighter than other types of exoplanets, such as rocky, more Earthlike planets or smaller, cooler gas planets. Ranging in size from about one-third the size of Jupiter to 10 Jupiter masses, all hot Jupiters orbit their host stars at an extremely close range, usually much closer than Mercury – the innermost planet in our solar system – is to the sun. A “year” on a typical hot Jupiter lasts hours, or at most a few days. For comparison, Mercury takes almost three months to complete a trip around the sun.

Because of their close orbits, most, if not all, hot Jupiters are thought to be locked in a high-speed embrace with their host stars, with one side eternally exposed to the star’s radiation and the other shrouded in perpetual darkness. The surface of a typical hot Jupiter can get as hot as almost 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, with “cooler” specimens reaching 1,400 degrees – hot enough to melt aluminum.

The research, which was led by Megan Mansfield, a NASA Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, used observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope that allowed the team to directly measure emission spectra from hot Jupiters, despite the fact that Hubble can’t image any of these planets directly.

“These systems, these stars and their hot Jupiters, are too far away to resolve the individual star and its planet,” Mansfield said. “All we can see is a point – the combined light source of the two.”

Mansfield and her team used a method known as secondary eclipsing to tease out information from the observations that allowed them to peer deep into the planets’ atmospheres and gain insights into their structure and chemical makeup. The technique involves repeated observations of the same system, catching the planet at various places in its orbit, including when it dips behind the star.

“We basically measure the combined light coming from the star and its planet and compare that measurement with what we see when the planet is hidden behind its star,” Mansfield said. “This allows us to subtract the star’s contribution and isolate the light emitted by the planet, even though we can’t see it directly.”

2
The turbulent atmosphere of a hot, gaseous planet known as HD 80606b is shown in this simulation based on data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The planet spends most of its time far away from its star, but every 111 days, it swings extremely close to the star, experiencing a massive burst of heat. Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech (US).

The eclipse data provided the researchers with insight into the thermal structure of the atmospheres of hot Jupiters and allowed them to construct individual profiles of temperatures and pressures for each one. The team then analyzed near-infrared light, which is a band of wavelengths just beyond the range humans can see, coming from each hot Jupiter system for so-called absorption features. Because each molecule or atom has its own specific absorption profile, like a fingerprint, looking at different wavelengths allows researchers to obtain information about the chemical makeup of hot Jupiters. For example, if water is present in the planet’s atmosphere, it will absorb light at 1.4 microns, which falls into the range of wavelengths that Hubble can see very well.

“In a way, we use molecules to scan through the atmospheres on these hot Jupiters,” Mansfield said. “We can use the spectrum we observe to get information on what the atmosphere is made of, and we can also get information on what the structure of the atmosphere looks like.”

The team went a step further by quantifying the observational data and comparing it to models of the physical processes believed to be at work in the atmospheres of hot Jupiters. The two sets matched very well, confirming that many predictions about the planets’ nature – based on theoretical work – appear to be correct, according to Mansfield, who said the findings are “exciting because they were anything but guaranteed.”

The results suggest that all hot Jupiters, not just the 19 included in the study, are likely to contain similar sets of molecules, like water and carbon monoxide, along with smaller amounts of other molecules. The differences among individual planets should mostly amount to varying relative amounts of these molecules. The findings also revealed that the observed water absorption features varied slightly from one hot Jupiter to the next.

“Taken together, our results tell us there is a good chance we have the big picture items figured out that are happening in the chemistry of these planets,” Mansfield said. “At the same time, each planet has its own chemical makeup, and that also influences what we see in our observations.”

According to the authors, the results can be used to guide expectations of what astronomers might be able to see when looking at a hot Jupiter that hasn’t been studied before. The launch of NASA’s news flagship telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, slated for Dec. 18, has exoplanet hunters excited because Webb can see in a much broader range of infrared light, and will allow a much more detailed look at exoplanets, including hot Jupiters.

“There is a lot that we still don’t know about how planets form in general, and one of the ways we try to understand how that could happen is by looking at the atmospheres of these hot Jupiters and figuring out how they got to be where they are,” Mansfield said. “With the Hubble data, we can look at trends by studying the water absorption, but when we are talking about the composition of the atmosphere as a whole, there are many other important molecules you want to look at, such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and JWST will give us a chance to actually observe those as well.”

See the full article here .


five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


Stem Education Coalition

As of 2019, the The University of Arizona (US) enrolled 45,918 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers (Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix). The University of Arizona is one of three universities governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The university is part of the Association of American Universities and is the only member from Arizona, and also part of the Universities Research Association(US). The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.

Known as the Arizona Wildcats (often shortened to “Cats”), The University of Arizona’s intercollegiate athletic teams are members of the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA. The University of Arizona athletes have won national titles in several sports, most notably men’s basketball, baseball, and softball. The official colors of the university and its athletic teams are cardinal red and navy blue.

After the passage of the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the push for a university in Arizona grew. The Arizona Territory’s “Thieving Thirteenth” Legislature approved The University of Arizona in 1885 and selected the city of Tucson to receive the appropriation to build the university. Tucson hoped to receive the appropriation for the territory’s mental hospital, which carried a $100,000 allocation instead of the $25,000 allotted to the territory’s only university (Arizona State University(US) was also chartered in 1885, but it was created as Arizona’s normal school, and not a university). Flooding on the Salt River delayed Tucson’s legislators, and by they time they reached Prescott, back-room deals allocating the most desirable territorial institutions had been made. Tucson was largely disappointed with receiving what was viewed as an inferior prize.

With no parties willing to provide land for the new institution, the citizens of Tucson prepared to return the money to the Territorial Legislature until two gamblers and a saloon keeper decided to donate the land to build the school. Construction of Old Main, the first building on campus, began on October 27, 1887, and classes met for the first time in 1891 with 32 students in Old Main, which is still in use today. Because there were no high schools in Arizona Territory, the university maintained separate preparatory classes for the first 23 years of operation.

Research

The University of Arizona is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. UArizona is the fourth most awarded public university by National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) for research. The University of Arizona was awarded over $325 million for its Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) to lead NASA’s 2007–08 mission to Mars to explore the Martian Arctic, and $800 million for its OSIRIS-REx mission, the first in U.S. history to sample an asteroid.

The LPL’s work in the Cassini spacecraft orbit around Saturn is larger than any other university globally. The University of Arizona laboratory designed and operated the atmospheric radiation investigations and imaging on the probe. The University of Arizona operates the HiRISE camera, a part of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. While using the HiRISE camera in 2011, University of Arizona alumnus Lujendra Ojha and his team discovered proof of liquid water on the surface of Mars—a discovery confirmed by NASA in 2015. The University of Arizona receives more NASA grants annually than the next nine top NASA/JPL-Caltech(US)-funded universities combined. As of March 2016, The University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is actively involved in ten spacecraft missions: Cassini VIMS; Grail; the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars; the Juno mission orbiting Jupiter; Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO); Maven, which will explore Mars’ upper atmosphere and interactions with the sun; Solar Probe Plus, a historic mission into the Sun’s atmosphere for the first time; Rosetta’s VIRTIS; WISE; and OSIRIS-REx, the first U.S. sample-return mission to a near-earth asteroid, which launched on September 8, 2016.

The University of Arizona students have been selected as Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, and Fulbright Scholars. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, UArizona is among the top 25 producers of Fulbright awards in the U.S.

The University of Arizona is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy(US), a consortium of institutions pursuing research in astronomy. The association operates observatories and telescopes, notably Kitt Peak National Observatory(US) just outside Tucson. Led by Roger Angel, researchers in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona are working in concert to build the world’s most advanced telescope. Known as the Giant Magellan Telescope(CL), it will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Telescope.

Giant Magellan Telescope, 21 meters, to be at the NOIRLab(US) National Optical Astronomy Observatory(US) Carnegie Institution for Science’s(US) Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

GMT Giant Magellan Telescope(CL) 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s(US) NOIRLab(US) NOAO(US) Las Campanas Observatory(CL), some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high.

The telescope is set to be completed in 2021. GMT will ultimately cost $1 billion. Researchers from at least nine institutions are working to secure the funding for the project. The telescope will include seven 18-ton mirrors capable of providing clear images of volcanoes and riverbeds on Mars and mountains on the moon at a rate 40 times faster than the world’s current large telescopes. The mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope will be built at The University of Arizona and transported to a permanent mountaintop site in the Chilean Andes where the telescope will be constructed.

Reaching Mars in March 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter contained the HiRISE camera, with Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen as the lead on the project. This National Aeronautics and Space Agency (US) mission to Mars carrying the UArizona-designed camera is capturing the highest-resolution images of the planet ever seen. The journey of the orbiter was 300 million miles. In August 2007, The University of Arizona, under the charge of Scientist Peter Smith, led the Phoenix Mars Mission, the first mission completely controlled by a university. Reaching the planet’s surface in May 2008, the mission’s purpose was to improve knowledge of the Martian Arctic. The Arizona Radio Observatory(US), a part of The University of Arizona Department of Astronomy Steward Observatory(US), operates the Submillimeter Telescope on Mount Graham.

The National Science Foundation(US) funded the iPlant Collaborative in 2008 with a $50 million grant. In 2013, iPlant Collaborative received a $50 million renewal grant. Rebranded in late 2015 as “CyVerse”, the collaborative cloud-based data management platform is moving beyond life sciences to provide cloud-computing access across all scientific disciplines.

In June 2011, the university announced it would assume full ownership of the Biosphere 2 scientific research facility in Oracle, Arizona, north of Tucson, effective July 1. Biosphere 2 was constructed by private developers (funded mainly by Texas businessman and philanthropist Ed Bass) with its first closed system experiment commencing in 1991. The university had been the official management partner of the facility for research purposes since 2007.

U Arizona mirror lab-Where else in the world can you find an astronomical observatory mirror lab under a football stadium?

University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, located in the Sonoran desert. An entire ecosystem under a glass dome? Visit our campus, just once, and you’ll quickly understand why the UA is a university unlike any other.

University of Arizona Landscape Evolution Observatory at Biosphere 2.