Hot Jupiters
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Basic Information

Hot Jupiters are a specific type of Gas Giant. These planets are the size of our Jupiter, or larger, and much closer to their local stars than Mercury is to our sun. The extreme proximity causes the Hot Jupiter to become tide locked with the star it orbits - it always points the same side toward the star.

Hot Jupiters are so hot (more 1,000oC / 1,800oF), the gases of the planet glow constantly. They also expand to be less dense than you'd expect a planet of that mass to be. This makes judging their size, boundaries, and other characteristics very difficult.

Hot Jupiters are the most commonly discovered exoplanet, but that's mostly a function of the methods available to us for finding and identifying planets outside our system. It does not mean that they are the most common planet in the heavens, just the easiest for us to spot.

Hot Jupiters are not always stable in the long term. For one thing, they likely migrated into their current position, because they couldn't form so close to their sun (the gases they are made of would instead have instead fallen into the star). If they continue to move, they may end up too close to the star. At a range of 0.015 Astronomical Units, they'll lose all their gases / atmosphere. It will evaporate away, or be sucked in by the star, and all that will be left of the former Hot Jupiter is a Cthonian Planet that used to be the rocky core of the thing.

The passage of a (soon-to-be) Hot Jupiter through a star system does have some benefits for the system. It's wake mixes material from the inner and outer regions of the system. The inner region includes the Goldilocks Zone, where life-supporting planets may form. The outer zone is where most of the moisture of a solar system is collected. When an early-forming Jovian Planet heads towards it's sun to become a Hot Jupiter, it may actually increase the chance of life forming in that system by making sure there's more water on the planets that could potentially produce life.



Game and Story Use

  • There's nothing to land on, and it'll burn your ship to cinders.
    • However, it's sort of a gigantic planetary forge, so there may be some resource (perhaps Metallic Hydrogen) you can gather there, if you can work out a way to survive the experience.
    • Not conducive to life as we know it, but some sort of highly radioactive, thermally resistant Energy Being could live there.
    • "Hot Jupiters!" sounds like an exclamation for a hero in a Space Opera. Better than "Jumpin' Jupiters!" certainly.
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