Last discovery! A deform exoplanet has been confirmed for the first time! See here

11/01/2022
Credit: ESA - Artist impression of planet WASP-103b and its host star
Credit: ESA - Artist impression of planet WASP-103b and its host star

A mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) brings new data about an exoplanet with a strange shape compared to others (exoplanets) discovered so far. The new exoplanet has an oval shape, like a rugby ball, instead of a spherical shape, as most planets have, be they planets in the Solar System or exoplanets. ESA scientists have made an artistic image on the computer through which we can see what the planet looks like as you see above. But to get an idea of ​​what the planet would look like, you can check out a picture of the dwarf planet Haumea: https://www.bailey-universe.com/l/en-haumea/

This is the first time that the deformation of an exoplanet has been detected. From this discovery, scientists have obtained important data about the internal structure of these exoplanets, which is not yet known whether or not is different from normal planets. Most likely the internal structure may differ from the usual plants by its size. 

About the newly exoplanet: 

  • is called WASP-103b 
  • is in the constellation of Hercules 
  • the mass is 1.49 (-0.088 /+0.088) MJ 
  • has a radius of 1,528 (-0.047 / +0.073) RJ
  • a predicted temperature on this exoplanet: 2508.0 K 
  • first time the body was discovered (without detecting its shape or type): 2014 
  • First data from: Hubble NASA / ESA and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope 
  • Deformation of this planet (according to data from 2022): ESA's Cheops space telescope

Even though astrophysicists are reluctant to believe that there is water on that exoplanet, some astronomers say that if there were water on that planet, huge tides could form. This would be due to the fact that it is a large exoplanet, larger than Jupiter, having a mass 1.5 times larger than Jupiter and orbiting a star, called WASP-103, which is about 200 degrees hotter and 1.7 times larger than the Sun. 

As we know that the tides are formed on Earth, due to the mutual attraction between the Earth and the Moon, when the Moon approaches the Earth (where the moon reaches the closest point to the Earth, the tide is formed, and will pass later). However, our Sun could not cause such huge tides because it is so far away from us. But this new exoplanet is very close to its star, which is stronger than the Sun anyway, so it is believed that due to the small distance between them, the tide may form on that exoplanet (if there is water). 

About the Cheops mission, it can be said that at this moment, it is focused on seeing what kind of forces and how big they pressed that planet to deform it in this way. 

"It's incredible that Cheops was actually able to reveal this tiny deformation," says Jacques Laskar of Paris Observatory, Université Paris Sciences et Lettres, and co-author of the research. "This is the first time such an analysis has been made, and we can hope that observing over a longer time interval will strengthen this observation and lead to a better knowledge of the planet's internal structure."

The research team's sheet also shows that it used the WASP-103b transit light curve to derive a parameter - the Love number - which measures how mass is distributed on this planet. If researchers found out here how mass is distributed throughout the exoplanet, they could learn a lot about the structure of the planet. 

"The resistance of a material to being deformed depends on its composition," explains Susana Barros of Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço and University of Porto, Portugal, and lead author of the research, according to ESA. "For example, here on Earth we have tides due to the Moon and the Sun but we can only see tides in the oceans. The rocky part doesn't move that much. By measuring how much the planet is deformed we can tell how much of it is rocky, gaseous or water." 

"In principle we would expect a planet with 1.5 times the mass of the Jupiter to be roughly the same size, so WASP-103b must be very inflated due to heating from its star and maybe other mechanisms," says Susana.

"If we can confirm the details of its internal structure with future observations maybe we could better understand what makes it so inflated. Knowing the size of the core of this exoplanet will also be important to better understand how it formed."

"The size of the effect of tidal deformation on an exoplanet transit light curve is very small, but thanks to the very high precision of Cheops we are able to see this for the first time," says ESA's Project Scientist for Cheops, Kate Isaak. "This study is an excellent example of the very diverse questions that exoplanet scientists are able to tackle with Cheops, illustrating the importance of this flexible follow-up mission."

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 11 January 2022, at 10:15 am Los Angeles time

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