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What are hot Jupiters made of?

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Andrew Collier Cameron discusses the nature and composition of giant gas planets around other stars, highlighting recent advances in this fast-moving field. Abstract

Among the 100 or so extrasolar planets discovered to date, the most bizarre are the dozen or so Jupiter-mass planets that orbit their parent stars with periods between three and seven days. These so-called “hot Jupiters” offer the most immediate chances for direct detection and characterization. At present only one of these planets has been found to transit the face of its parent star. Its radius is that of a slightly inflated gas giant. Models of the structure and evolution of these planets are beginning to show how clues to their evolutionary history may be encoded in their mass–radius–age relations. Over the next few years, the prospects are good for discovery of many more transiting systems that can be used to infer mass–radius relations for irradiated planets. At the same time, new optical and infrared spectral separation techniques will uncover the role played by the chemistry and physics of irradiated gas-giant atmospheres in regulating their cooling and contraction.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-08-01

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