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NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft Detected New Hot Jupiter, K2 Mission’s Ninth Such Discovery

First Posted: Jun 30, 2017 04:59 AM EDT
Hot Jupiter
Data from the K2 mission has helped a research team discover a new hot Jupiter.
(Photo : ScienceAtNASA/YouTube screenshot)

NASA’s K2 mission has helped identify a new exoplanet that has been termed as a hot Jupiter by scientists. Called EPIC 228735255b, the planet has an eccentric orbit around its host star.

According to Phys.org, the Kepler spacecraft first detected the celestial world as a planetary candidate during its Campaign 10 in July 2016. The mission had spotted the light curve of the parent star EPIC 228735255 that is quite similar to the Sun in terms of size and mass. The new finding was backed by a research team that used ground-based telescopes to carry out follow-up observations.

The research enabled the team to find out that EPIC 228735255b is a hot Jupiter, with a predicted equilibrium temperature of 1,114°K. Incidentally, exoplanets designated as hot Jupiters are gas giant planets that are similar to Jupiter in characteristics. They orbit their parent stars closely and have orbital periods less than 10 days. Due to their close orbit of their host stars, such exoplanets also have high surface temperatures.

The study paper that was published in the Cornell University Library's Arxiv.org also mentions that to date, EPIC 228735255b is the ninth hot Jupiter discovered by the K2 mission.

"This discovery is the ninth 'hot Jupiter' from K2 and highlights K2's ability to detect transiting giant planets at periods slightly longer than traditional, ground-based surveys," the research team of astronomers said.

The ground-based telescopes used for the study included the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) and Euler Telescope at Chile’s La Silla Observatory, South Africa’s Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) telescopes and Arizona’s Kitt Peak telescope.

The planet is as massive as the largest known planet in the solar system, with a radius of about 1.09 Jupiter radii. This implies that the exoplanet's bulk density is around 27 percent lower than Jupiter, indicating that the world is slightly inflated. The gas giant exoplanet orbits its host star every 6.57 days.

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