In its first discovery, the European Space Agency's latest exoplanet mission Cheops has found an alien world that hosts "hottest and most extreme extra-solar planets." As Cheops unravel the strangest mysteries of the Universe, it sheds light on the new finding named WASP-189 b.
According to the ESA press release, WASP-189 b has been dubbed as "ultra-hot Jupiter" due to its similarity to the giant gas planet of our Solar system. However, the newly discovered alien world orbits much closer to its host star which has resulted in extreme temperatures on the planet.
In comparison to our planet, WASP-189 is located 20 times closer to its sun-like star and it completes its orbit in just 2.7 days. As for its host star, it is 2000 times more hot than ours. Therefore, it appears blue in colour.
"Only a handful of planets are known to exist around stars this hot, and this system is by far the brightest," said Monika Lendl of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, lead author of the new study. "WASP-189b is also the brightest hot Jupiter that we can observe as it passes in front of or behind its star, making the whole system really intriguing."
ESA's Cheops, short for Characterising Exoplanet Satellite, was launched in December 2019 to study nearby bright stars that are already known to be hosting exoplanets. In its first step, the mission aims to attempt to develop an understanding of these alien worlds.
In its first finding, Cheops delves deeper into the world of WASP 189b that was discovered in the year 2018 located 322 light-years away in the Libra constellation.
The scientists used the mission to observe the planet in different phases including when it was passing behind its host star and in front of its star.
Scientists found that this star is far more interesting than they thought due to its irregular round shape and brighter poles. It is said to be larger and cooler at its equator than at the poles.
"It's spinning around so fast that it's being pulled outwards at its equator! Adding to this asymmetry is the fact that WASP-189 b's orbit is inclined; it doesn't travel around the equator, but passes close to the star's poles," Lendl added.
WASP 189b's tilted orbit adds to its mystery and makes the researchers wonder if it was "formed further out and then pushed inwards."
"This first result from Cheops is hugely exciting: it is early definitive evidence that the mission is living up to its promise in terms of precision and performance," said Kate Isaak, Cheops project scientist at ESA.
The scientists at the space agency believe that "Cheops has a unique 'follow-up' role to play in studying such exoplanets." They are hoping that in the near future the mission will be able to shed light on hundreds of known planets that orbit around bright stars.
"Cheops will not only deepen our understanding of exoplanets also that of our own planet, Solar System, and the wider cosmic environment," Isaak concludes.