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“Hot Jupiters” May Be More Friendly Than We Thought

“Hot Jupiters” May Be More Friendly Than We Thought

In a recent study, it has been discovered that not all “hot Jupiters” are unfriendly towards other companions. Hot Jupiters are giant planets that orbit close to their parent star, unlike Jupiter in our own solar system. These massive gas planets are heated to extreme temperatures, reaching hundreds or even thousands of degrees.

The prevailing theory has been that hot Jupiters must have formed farther out from their star and then migrated inward. However, it has been unclear whether this migration process is gentle, allowing other planets to co-exist, or violent, resulting in the expulsion of other planets in their path.

Previous observations led astronomers to believe that the violent scenario was more likely, as few close companion planets were found around hot Jupiters. However, the recent study has revealed that approximately one in eight hot Jupiters do have a nearby companion, suggesting a more gentle migration process.

Interestingly, warm Jupiters, which are slightly farther away from their star, were found to be even more hospitable towards companions. About two-thirds of warm Jupiters were discovered to have close companion planets. This implies that there may be multiple ways for a Jupiter-like planet to migrate towards its parent star.

In our own solar system, Jupiter teams up with the Moon for a captivating celestial display over the next few nights. Jupiter will appear as a brilliant star, situated to the lower left of the Moon tonight and moving closer tomorrow night.

– Damond Benningfield, script writer

Note: Definitions have been provided for “hot Jupiters” and “warm Jupiters” to clarify their meaning.