Planets too have “fat days”

June 21st, 2009 - 3:33 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 21 (ANI): Humans are not the only ones cribbing over weight issues, some planets too go through a “fat” stage that swells their waistlines temporarily.

“Astronomers have found a lot of planets whose sizes cannot be explained by standard theory,” says Laurent Ibgui of Princeton University.

The difference between predicted and measured widths of so-called “hot Jupiters” can be 30 per cent or more, reports New Scientist.

According to the study, which used a computer simulation, the effect can be temporarily halted in hot Jupiters that begin life in highly elliptical orbits.

Alternatively the planets are squeezed and stretched as they circle their stars, resulting in “tidal heating” that warms the gas inside the planet.

This, thereby, counteracts the cooling effect, inflating the planet.

Eventually, though, the planet’s orbit will become more circular, and the hot Jupiter resumes shrinking.

Ibgui presented the research at an American Astronomical Society meeting in Pasadena, California, last week. (ANI)

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