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Odd planet's extreme global warming: Highs of 2240

A study published in the latest issue of Nature indicates there is a distant planet -- HD 80606b -- which is four times the size of Jupiter and is able to heat up more than 1,200 degrees in just six hours.

"We watched the development of one of the fiercest storms in the galaxy," Lick Observatory astronomer Greg Laughlin said in a statement.  "If you could float above the clouds of this planet, you'd see its sun growing larger and larger at faster and faster rates, increasing in brightness by almost a factor of 1,000."

The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope was used to study the changing weather on HD 80606b -- a first for a planet outside of our solar system. It also has a very distinct orbit, as it comes closer to its sun than Mercury's distance from the Earth's sun, before launching away to be just as far as Earth is from the sun.

When it's closest to the sun, radiation is 800 times stronger than when it is orbiting far away from the sun.  The planet orbits the star in 111 days.  The extremely high heat and severe temperature changes obviously make it unlikely any signs of life exist on the planet.

"The orbit is extremely eccentric," Laughlin said in the NASA statement.  "Of the expolanets that have been detected -- we've observed 300 -- this is the most extreme orbit we've seen so far."

The odd orbit accounts for the planet's extreme temperature change, with the planet normally averaging a temperature around 980 degrees.

Astronomers look forward to learning more about the planet, especially its odd orbit that causes extreme temperature changes.  They also want to try and get a direct image of the planet sometime in the future, and leave behind artist's interpretations.

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life on eccentric orbit bodies
By AssBall on 1/29/2009 3:24:48 PM , Rating: 2
The extremely high heat and severe temperature changes obviously make it unlikely any signs of life exist on the planet.

Nevermind the rediculous amount of pressure and gravity on a planet this massive...

I bet if there is life on something like this it would have to have a crazy dormant period during its planet's/moon's solar revolution.

This bad boy tops the list, but it seems like several of the new planets we are finding have fairly eccentric orbits

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By The0ne on 1/29/2009 3:39:54 PM , Rating: 3
A water bear could probably live there, I envy this little guy :)

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By joex444 on 1/29/2009 4:00:30 PM , Rating: 5
Actually gravity and pressure are speculative. Remember for constant density, gravity at the surface of a planet goes like M/r^2. M itself goes like (density)*r^3 [some geometric factors like 4/3 Pi are here as well]. So, for constant density, it is clear that a bigger planet will have higher gravity. But consider if the planet is one fourth as dense as Jupiter. It says this planet is 4x larger than Jupiter; so in this case it would have the same gravity as Jupiter. My point is that even in the simplest case of constant density (which is not true since cores tend to be much denser), you can't know the gravitational acceleration of a planet until you know its density.

As far as pressure goes, this is a proprety of the atmosphere above it. With so little protection from its sun, I would venture a guess and say it has a thin atmosphere.

Also if you consider evolution you'll realize that life generally begins as single celled organisms. If the gravity is so extreme that even these die then there's no hope of life. But if these can thrive, then larger creatures should evolve but would do so in a way so as to withstand the gravity. Humans are very well designed for g=9.8m/s^2 or so. When we get placed on the moon with a gravity of around 1.5m/s^2 we don't work very well -- bouncy, hard to walk, etc. On higher gravity planets we would probably be shorter and break more bones; we also would die from shorter falls.

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By AssBall on 1/29/2009 5:10:10 PM , Rating: 2
I see what you're saying. Still, even if it was made up of 100% hydrogen, it would still have at least hundreds of times earth's gravity and pressure, no?

The "atmosphere above it" as you put it is most proportionate to the total mass of the planet. As close as it gets to its sun, im sure some of the atmosphere is lost, but I it would aslo steal back a fair bit of matter from the star.

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By Spinne on 1/29/2009 10:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
I recommend a reading of the 'Chemical Potential' (chapter 6 if I remember correctly) in Kittel & Kroemer.

By ice456789 on 1/29/2009 8:50:34 PM , Rating: 2
zzzzzzzzzzz...... Wha..Whoa.. Oh, sorry. Must've dozed off there. Please continue.

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By StevoLincolnite on 1/30/2009 12:08:46 AM , Rating: 3
That is Carbon based life forms, there "could" be other life-forms which aren't carbon based like what we have on earth, something like a Sulfur based life form would be a completely different kettle of fish, where we wont be able to predict it's requirements to sustain it's own life.

The issue is that we are looking for "Carbon" based life forms, if the universe is infinite, and if Aliens exist, there would be more variations.

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By myhipsi on 1/30/2009 1:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
There could be other life forms which aren't carbon based, anything is possible. But in reality, not probable. The reason why all known life is carbon based is not necessarily because earth is unique, but because of the special properties of the carbon atom that make IT unique, like the fact the they contain 4 valence electrons, that it can form bonds with itself and that it can readily form bonds with other organic elements like hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.

My guess is that whereever we find life outside of our planet (most likely outside of our solar system) they'll be carbon based. Physics and chemistry are universal, so my hunch is that it doesn't matter where in the universe we may find life, it will be similar to life on earth in the sense that it will be carbon based, it will contain organic molecules, and it will thrive in similar conditions as life does here on earth.

My 2 cents.

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By Hellfire27 on 1/30/2009 6:32:56 PM , Rating: 2
I remember reading somewhere that on a planet with a high natural temperature, that it would be more likely to evolve Silicon based life forms. Apparently these lifeforms would be more well suited to stand up against higher gravity forces and heat.

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By myhipsi on 1/30/2009 9:16:29 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, while it seems silicon is chemically very similar to carbon, it has a fatal flaw which makes it different, and thus unsuitable for the basis of life.

Excerpt from website

When carbon is oxidized during the respiratory process of a terrestrial organism, it becomes the gas carbon dioxide – a waste material that is easy for a creature to remove from its body. The oxidation of silicon, however, yields a solid because, immediately upon formation, silicon dioxide organizes itself into a lattice in which each silicon atom is surrounded by four oxygens. Disposing of such a substance would pose a major respiratory challenge.

Life-forms must also be able to collect, store, and utilize energy from their environment. In carbon-based biota, the basic energy storage compounds are carbohydrates in which the carbon atoms are linked by single bonds into a chain. A carbohydrate is oxidized to release energy (and the waste products water and carbon dioxide) in a series of controlled steps using enzymes. These enzymes are large, complex molecules (see proteins) which catalyze specific reactions because of their shape and "handedness." A feature of carbon chemistry is that many of its compounds can take right and left forms, and it is this handedness, or chirality, that gives enzymes their ability to recognize and regulate a huge variety of processes in the body. Silicon's failure to give rise to many compounds that display handedness makes it hard to see how it could serve as the basis for the many interconnected chains of reactions needed to support life.

The absence of silicon-based biology, or even silicon-based prebiotic chemicals, is also suggested by astronomical evidence. Wherever astronomers have looked – in meteorites, in comets, in the atmospheres of the giant planets, in the interstellar medium, and in the outer layers of cool stars – they have found molecules of oxidized silicon (silicon dioxide and silicates) but no substances such as silanes or silicones which might be the precursors of a silicon biochemistry.

That's not to say we won't find artificial "electronic" life based on silicon, but it seems physically and chemically impossible for biological life to be based on silicon.

RE: life on eccentric orbit bodies
By modus2 on 1/30/2009 8:17:20 AM , Rating: 3
If I remember correctly Jupiter is on the upper end of what size a gas giant can achieve. Increased mass will just increase density and at about 10 Jupiter masses it will ignite into a brown dwarf.

By MrPoletski on 2/2/2009 6:05:47 AM , Rating: 2
The force between two objects due to gravity is proportional to mass. You only need the density by virtue of the fact you can work out the mass from it... if you also know the size.

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