Kha Han Lisa Dang
PhD student in Physics
Award-winning publication: Detection of a westward hotspot offset in the atmosphere of hot gas giant CoRoT-2b
Published in: Nature Astronomy
Hot Jupiters - gas giant exoplanets similar to Jupiter - have a very short orbital period, leaving one hemisphere permanently facing the host star while the other remains in the dark. While theories assert that strong eastward winds transfer heat from one hemisphere to the other, this is not the case for exoplanet CoRoT-2b, on which winds blow in the opposite direction. This discovery may lead to major implications for giant planets, as well as the terrestrial planets that orbit red dwarfs. Scientists already know that climate and atmospheric circulation are essential to the preservation of the planets' living systems, making the accuracy of atmospheric models critical to the study of exoplanet habitability. The discovery by Kha Han Lisa Dang and her team highlights the components of the theoretical models that must be refined before researchers can tackle more complex planetary systems.