Tidally Distorted Exoplanets: Density Corrections for Short-period Hot-Jupiters Based Solely on Observable Parameters

J. R. Burton, Christopher Watson, A. Fitzsimmons, D. Pollacco, V. Moulds, S. P. Littlefair, P. J. Wheatley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The close proximity of short-period hot-Jupiters to their parent star means they are subject to extreme tidal forces. This has a profound effect on their structure and, as a result, density measurements that assume that the planet is spherical can be incorrect. We have simulated the tidally distorted surface for 34 known short-period hot-Jupiters, assuming surfaces of constant gravitational equipotential for the planet, and the resulting densities have been calculated based only on observed parameters of the exoplanet systems. Comparing these results to the density values, assuming the planets are spherical, shows that there is an appreciable change in the measured density for planets with very short periods (typically less than two days). For one of the shortest-period systems, WASP-19b, we determine a decrease in bulk density of 12% from the spherical case and, for the majority of systems in this study, this value is in the range of 1%-5%. On the other hand, we also find cases where the distortion is negligible (relative to the measurement errors on the planetary parameters) even in the cases of some very short period systems, depending on the mass ratio and planetary radius. For high-density gas planets requiring apparently anomalously large core masses, density corrections due to tidal deformation could become important for the shortest-period systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2014


  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • planets and satellites: fundamental parameters

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