Thursday, July 9, 2015

WASP-121b: a Polar Orbiting hot Jupiter Close to Tidal Disruption

WASP-121 b: a hot Jupiter in a polar orbit and close to tidal disruption


Delrez et al


We present the discovery by the WASP-South survey, in close collaboration with the Euler and TRAPPIST telescopes, of WASP-121 b, a new remarkable short-period transiting hot Jupiter, whose planetary nature has been statistically validated by the PASTIS software. The planet has a mass of 1.183+0.064−0.062 MJup, a radius of 1.865 ± 0.044 RJup, and transits every 1.2749255+0.0000020−0.0000025 days an active F6-type main-sequence star (V=10.4, 1.353+0.080−0.079 M, 1.458 ± 0.030 R, Teff = 6460 ± 140 K). A notable property of WASP-121 b is that its orbital semi-major axis is only ∼1.15 times larger than its Roche limit, which suggests that the planet might be close to tidal disruption. Furthermore, its large size and extreme irradiation (∼7.1109 erg s−1cm−2) make it an excellent target for atmospheric studies via secondary eclipse observations. Using the TRAPPIST telescope, we indeed detect its emission in the z′-band at better than ∼4σ, the measured occultation depth being 603 ± 130 ppm. Finally, from a measurement of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect with the CORALIE spectrograph, we infer a sky-projected spin-orbit angle of 257.8+5.3−5.5 deg. This result indicates a significant misalignment between the spin axis of the host star and the orbital plane of the planet, the planet being in a nearly polar orbit. Such a high misalignment suggests a migration of the planet involving strong dynamical events with a third body.

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