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Deuterium Fusion in the Cores of Inflated Hot-Jupiters

8 Jul 2015, 23:00 UTC
Deuterium Fusion in the Cores of Inflated Hot-Jupiters
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Hot-Jupiters are a class of Jupiter-like exoplanets that reside in very close-in orbits around their parent stars. These planets are strongly irradiated and have intensely hot daysides. Like Jupiter, they are gas giant planets primarily composed of hydrogen and helium. Observations have shown that a large proportion of hot-Jupiters are inflated in size. Their radii appear too large even after accounting for the strong irradiation from the parent star. A number of mechanisms have been proposed to explain the inflated radii of hot-Jupiters. These include tidal heating and Ohmic heating. Basically, the inflated radii of hot-Jupiters require mechanisms that can deposit additional sources of energy within the bulk of the planet.A study by Ouyed & Jaikumar (2015) suggests yet another mechanism that could account for the inflated radii of hot-Jupiters. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen and deuterium-deuterium (DD) fusion in the deep interior of hot-Jupiters can provide an extra source of energy. A problem with this process is that it requires extremely high temperatures (~100,000 K) in a layer of deuterium around the planet’s core. This an order of magnitude larger than the core temperatures typically found in hot-Jupiters. Nevertheless, DD fusion becomes more plausible if it instead occurs ...

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