Astronomers used NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope to videotape an exoplanet for a whole year, which isn’t very long compared to the Earth.
The Jupiter-like planet dubbed XO-3b has a year that lasts barely three Earth days and, according to experts, has harsh seasons. On this exoplanet, a one-day-long hot season alternates with a three-day-long winter, resulting in temperature changes that are unheard of on Earth.
Lisa Dang, an astronomer at McGill University in Canada and one of the researchers, told Space.com that they witnessed seasonal temperature swings hundreds of times greater than what we see on Earth.
How illuminating! ✨
Two new studies using data from @NASA’s retired Spitzer Space Telescope are shedding light on planets outside our solar system, or exoplanets, including how they form and what drives weather in their atmospheres. https://t.co/lYQdGLXaL8 #AAS239 pic.twitter.com/cTM7ADsrjv
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) January 13, 2022
The researchers said that, unlike Earth, XO-3b has seasons due to its oval orbit around its star, which dramatically alters the quantity of radiation it gets, and that these seasons are not identical to those observed on our planet. Seasons on Earth occur as a result of our planet’s tilt on its axis, as is well known.
Following their findings, the scientists deduced that the planet is relatively fresh, having just recently orbited its home star in astronomical terms. Researchers believe it must have a circular orbit because a planet the size of XO-3b exerts enormous gravitational attraction due to its closeness to its host star.
Researchers detailed their study, “Thermal Phase Curves of XO-3b: An Eccentric Hot Jupiter at the Deuterium Burning Limit,” in the Astronomical Journal.
(Photo : Photo digital Illustration by NASA/NASA via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED: In this NASA digital illustration handout released on February 22, 2017, an artist’s concept allows us to imagine what it would be like to stand on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, located in the TRAPPIST-1 system in the constellation Aquarius.
XO-3b May Not Be A Planet At All
According to Republic World, scientists believe that despite the planet’s bizarre properties, it’s plausible that XO-3b isn’t a planet at all. The evidence for these statements comes from the Spitzer telescope’s identification of significant infrared fingerprints during its observations. Infrared detection became critical since it is a wavelength of light and a heat indicator.
This increased warmth that we noticed with Spitzer isn’t seasonal, according to Dang, who noted that it occurs all year. Researchers have discovered that this hot Jupiter is heated not just by the surrounding planet star but also by the planet’s inner heat.
The planet was discovered to be puffier than predicted because of the heat. These discoveries lead to two conclusions: either this planet is suffering tidal heating due to its tremendous gravity, or it is a brown dwarf, sometimes known as “failed stars.”
According to Space.com, XO-3b may not be a typical planet, but it might not be a failed star yet, but at the height of its career as a star.