For the last 20 years the giant planets known as hot Jupiters have presented astronomers with a puzzle. How did they settle into orbits 100 times closer to their host stars than our own Jupiter is to the Sun? An international team of astronomers has announced this week1 the discovery of a newborn hot Jupiter, orbiting an infant sun — only 2 million years old, the stellar equivalent of a week-old human baby. The discovery that hot Jupiters can already be present at such an early stage of star-planet formation represents a major step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve.
“Planet formation models offer two competing explanations of how and when this migration of hot Jupiters occurred. Either it happened early while these planets were still forming, or much later, with some planets being kicked closer to their stars due to the interaction of multiple planets, or both” explains Clément Baruteau, CNRS astronomer at IRAP / OMP and a coauthor of this study. “Our discovery demonstrates that the first, earlier option is taking place; it revives the long-running debate about how and when this migration occurs, and brings us one step forward in our understanding of how planetary systems form”.
“The young hot Jupiter we just detected comes as the first evidence that early disc migration is also happening” says Andrew Collier Cameron of the University of St Andrews, a coauthor of the study.
IRAP / OMP, Fr
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1 The paper describing the discovery, published in Nature, is available here