WASP-12b: A Mass-Losing Extremely Hot Jupiter

Haswell, Carole A. (2017). WASP-12b: A Mass-Losing Extremely Hot Jupiter. In: Deeg, H. and Belmonte, J. eds. Handbook of Exoplanets. Springer.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-30648-3_97-1


WASP-12b is an extreme hot Jupiter in a 1 day orbit, suffering profound irradiation from its F type host star. The planet is surrounded by a translucent exosphere which overfills the Roche lobe and produces line-blanketing absorption in the near-UV. The planet is losing mass. Another unusual property of the WASP-12 system is that observed chromospheric emission from the star is anomalously low: WASP-12 is an extreme outlier amongst thousands of stars when the log R'HK chromospheric activity indicator is considered. Occam's razor suggests these two extremely rare properties coincide in this system because they are causally related. The absence of the expected chromospheric emission is attributable to absorption by a diffuse circumstellar gas shroud which surrounds the entire planetary system and fills our line of sight to the chromospherically active regions of the star. This circumstellar gas shroud is probably fed by mass loss from WASP-12b. The orbital eccentricity of WASP-12b is small but may be non-zero. The planet is part of a hierarchical quadruple system; its current orbit is consistent with prior secular dynamical evolution leading to a highly eccentric orbit followed by tidal circularization. When compared with the Galaxy’s population of planets, WASP-12b lies on the upper boundary of the sub-Jovian desert in both the (M_P, P) and (R_P, P) planes. Determining the mass loss rate for WASP-12b will illuminate the mechanism(s) responsible for the sub-Jovian desert.

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