Simulations of HAT-P 7b’s magnetic field give clues to the world’s variable gusts
T.M. Rogers/Nature Astronomy 2017
HAT-P 7b is a windy world. Stiff easterlies typically whip through the atmosphere of the distant exoplanet, but sometimes the powerful gales blow in surprisingly varied directions. Now, simulations of the planet’s magnetic field lines, illustrated here as a rainbow of scrawled marks, reveal that HAT-P 7b’s magnetic field influences the winds, even turning some into westerlies. The result, published May 15 in Nature Astronomy, could lead to a better understanding of the atmospheres of other exoplanets.
Known as a “hot Jupiter,” HAT-P 7b is a gas giant that orbits its star once every 2.2 Earth days. The exoplanet, located 1,043 light-years away, is also tidally locked: One side always faces toward its star while the other faces away. That orientation pushes temperatures to about 1,900° Celsius on the planet’s dayside compared with