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Beyond Earthly Skies

Periastron Heating of HD 80606 b

9 Oct 2013, 10:00 UTC
Periastron Heating of HD 80606 b NASA/JPL-Caltech/J. Langton (UC Santa Cruz).
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HD 80606 b is a gas giant planet which swings around a Sun-like star on a wildly eccentric orbit and probably has the most eccentric orbit of any known planet. The planet’s orbit takes it as far out as 0.85 AU from its host star, and as close in as 0.03 AU (one AU is the average distance between Earth and the Sun). The mass of HD 80606 b is estimated to be about 4 times that of Jupiter.HD 80606 b circles its host star every 111.4 days. While the planet spends most of its time at distances that would place it between Venus and Earth in our solar system, it zips through the closest part of its orbit in less than a day. At the maximum distance from its host star, HD 80606 b receives a similar amount of stellar flux as Earth receives from the Sun. However, at closest approach, the planet receives 825 times more stellar flux than it does when furthest from its host star.Figure 1: Orbital geometry of HD 80606 b.In November 2007, a team of astronomers led by Gregory Laughlin, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC, used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to ...

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