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The Dark Side of Extrasolar Planets Share Surprisingly Similar Temperatures

30 Aug 2019, 20:37 UTC
The Dark Side of Extrasolar Planets Share Surprisingly Similar Temperatures
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A new study by McGill University astronomers has found that the temperature on the nightsides of different hot Jupiters is surprisingly uniform, suggesting the dark side of these massive gaseous planets have clouds made of minerals and rocks.Using data from the Spitzer Space and the Hubble Space telescopes, the researchers from the McGill Space Institute found that the nightside temperature of 12 hot Jupiters they studied was about 800°C. Unlike our familiar planet Jupiter, so-called hot Jupiters circle very close to their host star -- so close that it typically takes fewer than three days to complete an orbit. As a result, hot Jupiters have daysides that permanently face their host stars and nightsides that always face the darkness of space, similarly to how the same side of the Moon always faces the Earth. The tight orbit also means these planets receive more sunlight from their star, which is what makes them extremely hot on the dayside. But scientists had previously measured significant amounts of heat on the nightside of hot Jupiters, as well, suggesting some kind of energy transfer from one side to the other. “Atmospheric circulation models predicted that nightside temperatures should vary much more than they do,” ...

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