Newly discovered hot Jupiter planet Wasp-18b may (or may not) be on the verge of plunging into its star
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Another extrasolar planet. This one is one of only two we've discovered so far that take less than a day to orbit their host star, and this proximity along with its hefty mass means there's quite the tug of war going on between it and its star. Astronomers aren't certain yet whether it's destined to perish from being pulled in or not. Also note that "soon" in astronomical terms means a few thousand / million years. Even sooner than that will probably be the (relatively) close approach of Barnard's Star to the Sun, which will happen in about 9000 years. In the long term (3 billion years) the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy will collide.
Back to the planet: a fairly interesting discovery that will make the news for about a day, but hot Jupiters are impossible to explore so the interest in them is academic. As always, I await the news of the discovery of an earth-sized planet. The bar graph showing the number of planets discovered in a given year has been updated, and this is what it looks like with 2009 showing the number discovered as of 14 August:
For a while 2009 looked like it was lagging behind but now it seems to have caught up, and I expect a swath of announcements from Kepler quite soon, certainly before the year is out.
Edit: found an article en français here on the planet if you prefer.