The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope recently discovered gas
planet HD 149026b, the hottest planet ever discovered. University of Central
Florida astronomers, led by Joseph Harrington, found that the planet is 3,700F,
a temperature higher than many low-mass stars.
The planet is a “hot Jupiter,” meaning that it is a large gas giant that
rotates closely around its star. HD 149026b is located in constellation
Hercules, up to 279 light-years away from Earth. While similar in size to
Saturn, it has a core that is 70 to 90 times the mass of Earth, and the planet
is able to complete a full revolution around its star in 2.9 days.
The telescope was able to estimate the temperature on the planet by monitoring
the decrease of infrared after the planet dips around its star. It is
likely that HD 149026b does not spread its heat around the planet. “The day
side is very hot, and the night side is probably much colder,” said Harrington.
"This planet is off the temperature scale that we expect for
planets," said Drake Deming, co-author for the paper, and a researcher at
the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Along with being the hottest planet ever discovered, the planet does not
reflect a high amount of starlight, instead absorbing it – meaning HD 149026b
is also the blackest planet known.
Scientists are trying to create a climate map of a “typical”
gas giant. The recent discovery will help scientists learn about dense, gas
giants that are not located in Earth's solar system.
The findings are available in the May 9 edition of Nature.