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Astronomy: Man Bites Dog; Planet heats its star

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9:04am, January 14, 2004

Observing a sunlike star 90 light-years from Earth, astronomers have found evidence of an extraordinary role reversal. Whereas a star usually heats a planet, a closely orbiting planet appears to be, in this case, heating its star.

Observations suggest that once every 3.09 days, as it whips around a star called HD 179949, the planet generates a hot spot in the star's atmosphere. Evgenya Shkolnik of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and her colleagues announced the finding last week at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Atlanta.

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