Tag Archives: WASP-18

WASP-18 is observed by TESS

The TESS mission will survey the entire sky for new transiting exoplanets, and as a by-product will produce space-quality lightcurves of all the WASP exoplanet systems. The first such paper has just appeared on arXiv, where Avi Shporer et al report on the TESS lightcurve of WASP-18.

WASP-18b is the most massive planet found by WASP, a 12-Jupiter-mass planet in a very tight orbit lasting only 0.94 days. This means it has the strongest planet–star tidal interaction of any known planetary system, such that the planet’s gravity gives rise to large tidal bulges on the host star. Here are the TESS data folded on the orbital cycle:

The out-of-transit data are clearly not flat (shown on a larger scale in the middle panel), and show the “ellipsoidal modulation” caused by the tidal bulges on the star. The heated face of the planet is also eclipsed by the star at phase 0.5, producing a secondary eclipse.

By analysing the lightcurve the authors conclude that very little heat is being redistributed from the heated face of the planet. Strong winds could carry heat to the un-irradiated cooler hemisphere, but there is little sign of this in the data.

So far the results of the analysis are in line with theoretical expectations, though the work points to the potential for similar analyses of other previously-known exoplanet systems.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory observes WASP-18

NASA have put out a press release about an observation of WASP-18 by the Chandra X-ray observatory.

WASP-18 was the first planet discovered to have an orbital period of less than 1 day and has the highest tidal interaction between a planet and a star of any known planetary system.

“We think the planet is ageing the star by wreaking havoc on its innards”, report the authors of the paper, “The planet’s gravity may cause motions of gas in the interior of the star that weaken the convection”, which “results in the magnetic field becoming weaker and the star to age prematurely”.

NASA have also produced a nice graphic of WASP-18 and its planet (image credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss):


The press release has been picked up by several media outlets including Astronomy magazine, Phys.org, the Daily Mail online, and the International Business Times. (Spot the error in the last outlet’s sentence that: “Scientists have used data provided by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to find a planet that causes the star it orbits to act much older than it actually is, according to a new study” (added emphasis)!)