The CoRoT mission announced their second transiting planet today, and it’s a weird one. The new planet has a mass of 3.53 Jupiter masses, a fleeting 1.7429964 day orbit, and a colossal radius. It’s fully 1.43 times larger than Jupiter.
The surface temperature on this planet is likely well above 1500K. Our baseline theoretical models predict that the radius of the planet should be ~1.13 Jupiter radii, which is much smaller than observed. Interestingly, however, if one assumes that a bit more than 1% of the stellar flux is deposited deep in the atmosphere, then the models suggest that the planet could easily be swollen to its observed size.
The surest way to heat up a planet is via forcing from tidal interactions with other, as-yet unknown planets in the system. If that’s what’s going on with CoRoT-exo-2 b, then it’s possible that the perturber can be detected via transit timing. The downloadable systemic console is capable of fitting to transit timing variations in conjunction with the radial velocity data. All that’s needed is a long string of accurate central transit times.
The parent star for CoRoT-exo-2-b is relatively small (0.94 solar radii) which means that the transit is very deep, of order 2.3%. That means good signal to noise. At V=12.6, the star should be optimally suited for differential photometry by observers with small telescopes. With a fresh transit occurring every 41 and a half hours, data will build up quickly. As soon as the coordinates are announced, observers should start bagging transits of this star and submitting their results to Bruce Gary’s Amateur Exoplanet Archive. (See here for a tutorial on using the console to do transit timing analyses.)