Hot Jupiter! Exoplanets Found Very Close to Stars
Two examples of Jupiter-size planets have been found by the European Southern Observatory. They are so close to their parent stars, they orbit in less than two earth-days each. Mercury would be 17 times farther out than one of them. They belong to a new class of exoplanets scientists are terming “hot Jupiters.”
A few years ago, solar system models would have always put the small, rocky planets close in and the gas giants farther out. Discoveries like this have caused a major rethink of the old nebular and planetesimal hypotheses (see 05/16/2003 headline). Ideas are floating around, seriously, that gas giants could form in just hundreds of years, and if the nebula doesn’t disperse fast, could be dragged into the parent star in just thousands of years. Our solar system is looking rare or unique (see 07/21/2003 headline). Are we privileged?