Astronomers discover 5 ‘hot Jupiters’ in deep space

16 Feb 2016290 Shares

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An artist's impression of a 'hot Jupiter'. Image via Ricardo Cardoso Reis/CAUP

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A team of astronomers has discovered five exoplanets referred to as ‘hot Jupiters’ due to their size and proximity to their suns, with all providing some interesting findings.

Hot Jupiters are, unsurprisingly, named as such because they are typically around the same size as Jupiter in our solar system, but are much, much closer to its nearest star than Jupiter is to our own.

Now, after publishing their findings in the arXiv journal, a team of astronomers from Keele University says it has discovered five such planets using an advanced planet spotter called the Wide Angle Search for Planets-South (WASP-South) instrument, which is an array of eight cameras observing selected regions of the southern sky.

From its base in South Africa, the team used the advanced spectroscope and photometer and were able to discover five exoplanets, which were detectable due to the significant decrease in brightness that results when they pass in front of their parent star.

WASP instrument is the best instrument

The research team has designated the five hot Jupiters WASP-119b, WASP-124b, WASP-126b, WASP-129b and WASP-133b, with masses ranging from 0.3 to 1.2 times the mass of Jupiter, while their radii is between one to 1.5 times Jupiter’s radius, and orbital periods range from 2.17 to 5.75 days.

Out of all the newly discovered exoplanets, 126b is considered to be the most interesting from an astronomical perspective due to it being the lowest-mass exoplanet discovered to date.

Speaking to Phys.org, Coel Hellier, a co-author of the paper, said: “WASP-126b is the most interesting because it orbits the brightest star of the five. This means it can be a target for atmospheric characterisation, deducing the composition and nature of the atmosphere from detailed study, for example, with the Hubble Space Telescope or the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope.”

These latest findings, Hellier has said, have shown that the WASP instrument used in the detection of these exoplanets is now the best instrument available to astronomy, with only NASA’s Kepler spacecraft finding more than it.

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com