Hot Jupiter Depicted

Friday, July 22nd 2011. | Science News

A new model has been created that shows aurorae on distant “hot Jupiters” can be up to 1000 times brighter than Earth aurorae, or Northern and Southern Lights.
Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have depicted a model of what they believe an aurora on a “hot Jupiter” would look like: a stellar light show spectacle that encapsulates the entire planet in a ripple effect.
Ofer Cohen, who led the research project, and his team used computers to model the events following a solar eruption hitting a gas giant.


The ripple effect would last over a course of about 6 hours, with the aurora 100-1000 times brighter than Earth’s moving up and down from the equator toward the north and south poles rather than just restricted to the Polar Regions. In other words, it would be a planet wide show encompassing the entire exoplanetary atmosphere.
Aurorae are created on Earth when particles from the Sun charged with energy crash into Earth’s magnetic field. Air molecules light up like neon signs when the magnetic field steers particles towards the North and South poles creating the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis. This same process can happen on all planets, even including exoplanets.
After the computer simulated model was finished, researchers found that the illumination that an aurorae on an exoplanet, while being smiliar to that of Earth, can possibly engulf the entire globe due to the high speed impact of stellar plasma to an exoplanet that is just a few million miles from its star.

“Hot Jupiters” would feel a strong blast similar to being one mile away from a volcano eruption, though research shows that gas giant exoplanets are quite capable of defending themselves against a stellar explosion, according to Irish Weather Online. The exoplanet’s magnetic field shields its atmosphere from erosion due to a protective mechanism within the exoplanet.

The first exoplanet “Hot Jupiter” was discovered in 1995 and is called 51 Pegasi b, or more commonly known as Bellerophon. It was the first extrasolar planet found similar in mass to Jupiter that orbits a Sun-like star.

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