Chasing "Hot Jupiter" Planets Around Space At Boise State

May 3, 2019

Scientists have discovered planets in other solar systems that look like Jupiter, but are much closer to their star. A planetary astronomer is coming to Boise to talk about these so-called “Hot Jupiters.”

The study of exoplanets is still a pretty young field. The first planet orbiting a star other than the sun was found in the 1990s, even though scientists had been theorizing about them since the 1600s.

Dr. Henry Ngo is a planetary astronomer at the National Research Council of Canada. He says astronomers have found about 4,000 exoplanets so far. He studies how they were born and how they live their lives. Right now, he’s studying hot Jupiters.

“There’s nothing like this in our solar system and we can study different exoplanet systems to give us clues about the different pathways that planets take to form and how they change over time,” says Ngo.

Hot Jupiters are hot, gas giant planets that only take a few days to go around their host stars. Ngo says they’re not common — only 1% of stars have hot Jupiters. But he says studying them is important. He believes we need a theory that explains everything we see in space.

“We can’t just explain the most common type of planets we see, we need to be able to explain the really weird stuff as well, otherwise we don’t have a complete model of how planets form,” says Ngo.

Ngo will be speaking Friday night at Boise State as part of the Physics’ Department First Friday event. And he’ll talk more about hot Jupiters today at Friday at noon on Idaho Matters.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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