SANTIAGO, Chile, March 10 (UPI) — A team of Chilean astronomers have identified two new “hot Jupiter” exoplanets using data collected by NASA’s Kepler probe.
Researchers described their discovery of EPIC210957318b and EPIC212110888b in a new research paper published last week.
Hot Jupiters are exoplanets similar in size and makeup to our solar system’s largest planet. But unlike the real Jupiter, which orbits the sun at an average distance of 483 million miles, hot Jupiters are much closer to their host stars — hence the modifier “hot.”
Whereas Jupiter completes an orbit of the sun every 11.86 years, hot Jupiters orbit their host stars in less than 10 days.
The research team, led by Rafael Brahm of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, examined the signatures of the two exoplanets as they periodically passed in front of their host stars. The two stars block out a portion of their host star’s rays every three to four days.
The transit properties encoded in the signature of their shadows — the depths, shapes and durations of their passage across the stars — reveal them as “strong Jovian planetary candidates,” researchers wrote.
EPIC210957318b is the smaller of the two exoplanets, somewhere between the size of Saturn and Jupiter — approximately 0.65 Jupiter masses. Its sun-like host star, which it orbits every 4.1 days, lies 970 light-years from the Earth.
EPIC212110888b is larger and hotter — 1.63 Jupiter masses, with an average surface temperature between 932 and 1,430 degrees Celsius. Its host star is larger than the sun and is 1,270 light-years away.
Both hot Jupiters are less dense than the real Jupiter, making them ideal candidates for follow-up studies aimed at gleaning deatils about their atmospheres.