A Distant Blue Star Hosts One of the Most Extreme Exoplanets Known to Science

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The newly deployed CHEOPS space telescope has completed its first observations of an exoplanet, uncovering some fascinating new details about an ultra-hot Jupiter known as WASP-189b.
Artistic impression of exoplanet WASP-189b orbiting its host star, which glows in blue. Image : ESA


Hot Jupiters are Jupiter-like exoplanets located in close proximity to their host stars, hence their name. Ultra-hot Jupiters are basically the same thing, but, as you've probably guessed, they're even hotter. Back in 2018, astronomers using the ground-based WASP-S outh telescope in South Africa detected an ultra-hot Jupiter dubbed WASP-189b, u nlike anything seen before.

Two years later, using the brand - spanking- new Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) space telescope, astronomers have gazed upon this celestial wonder with new eyes, refining what we know of this unusual exoplanet, while at the same time affirming the tremendous potential of this European space telescope, which only began making scientific observations this past April.


Indeed, CHEOPS, when compared to ground-based telescopes, "is simply much more precise," Monika Lendl, an astronomer at the University of Geneva and the lead author of the new study, explained in an email. "Because CHEOPS observes from space, it doesn't need to look through the Earth's atmosphere, and so the light doesn't get disturbed by air turbulence."

CHEOPS, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Swiss Space Office, is solely designed to detect and observe exoplanets, which it does by spotting dips in a star's brightness—a potential sign of an exoplanet passing in front (i.e. the transit method of detection). CHEOPS will also study previously detected exoplanets, as is the case here with WASP-189b.

"Cheops has a unique 'follow-up' role to play in studying such exoplanets," Kate Isaak, a CHEOPS project scientist at ESA and a co-author of the new study,…
George Dvorsky
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