Thursday, July 9, 2015

Could Inflated hot Jupiters Have Nuclear Fusion in Their Cores?

Nuclear Fusion in the Deuterated cores of inflated hot Jupiters


Ouyed et al


In Ouyed et al. (1998), Deuterium-Deuterium (DD) burning in the deep interior of giant planets (at the core-mantle interface) was proposed as a mechanism to explain their observed heat excess. An issue with such a mechanism is the extreme condition of high interior temperatures (~ 10^5 K) in a concentrated D layer needed to account for the excess heat. In this paper, we show that screened DD fusion in a deuterated core is a more plausible mechanism to explain the excess heat and observed inflated radii of some Jovian exoplanets ("hot Jupiters"). The screening alleviates the extreme temperature constraint and removes the requirement of a stratified D layer, so that DD-fusion is a significant internal energy source (~ 10^(25)-10^(27) erg/s) even within the expected range of core temperature (~ 10^4 K) and density of hot Jupiters. The mechanism is universal, long-lasting (Gigayears), and should be effective as long as the metallicity is not too high and the core has not been significantly eroded away already. Application of simple scaling relations suggest that the inflated size can be a result of this mechanism.

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