An Orbital Period of 0.94 Days for the hot-Jupiter Planet WASP-18b

Nature. 2009 Aug 27;460(7259):1098-100. doi: 10.1038/nature08245.


The 'hot Jupiters' that abound in lists of known extrasolar planets are thought to have formed far from their host stars, but migrate inwards through interactions with the proto-planetary disk from which they were born, or by an alternative mechanism such as planet-planet scattering. The hot Jupiters closest to their parent stars, at orbital distances of only approximately 0.02 astronomical units, have strong tidal interactions, and systems such as OGLE-TR-56 have been suggested as tests of tidal dissipation theory. Here we report the discovery of planet WASP-18b with an orbital period of 0.94 days and a mass of ten Jupiter masses (10 M(Jup)), resulting in a tidal interaction an order of magnitude stronger than that of planet OGLE-TR-56b. Under the assumption that the tidal-dissipation parameter Q of the host star is of the order of 10(6), as measured for Solar System bodies and binary stars and as often applied to extrasolar planets, WASP-18b will be spiralling inwards on a timescale less than a thousandth that of the lifetime of its host star. Therefore either WASP-18 is in a rare, exceptionally short-lived state, or the tidal dissipation in this system (and possibly other hot-Jupiter systems) must be much weaker than in the Solar System.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't