Day lasts only for eight hours on exoplanet

Washington, May 1: Researchers, analyzing the data from ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), have for the first time determined the rotation rate of an exoplanet.

Beta Pictoris b has been found to have a day that lasts only eight hours. This is much quicker than any planet in the Solar System – its equator is moving at almost 100,000 kilometres per hour.

This new result extends the relation between mass and rotation seen in the Solar System to exoplanets. Similar techniques will allow astronomers to map exoplanets in detail in the future with the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

Exoplanet Beta Pictoris b orbits the naked-eye star Beta Pictoris, which lies about 63 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Pictor (The Painter’s Easel).

This planet was discovered nearly six years ago and was one of the first exoplanets to be directly imaged. It orbits its host star at a distance of only eight times the Earth-Sun distance (eso1024) – making it the closest exoplanet to its star ever to be directly imaged.

Using the CRIRES instrument on the VLT, a team of Dutch astronomers from Leiden University and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) have now found that the equatorial rotation velocity of exoplanet Beta Pictoris b is almost 100 000 kilometres per hour.

By comparison, Jupiter’s equator has a velocity of about 47 000 km per hour, while the Earth’s travels at only 1700 km per hour. Beta Pictoris b is more than 16 times larger and 3000 times more massive than the Earth, yet a day on the planet only lasts 8 hours.(ANI)