CoRoT-9b, a Jupiter-like transiting giant planet

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Among the over 450 known exoplanets, the planets that transit their central star stand out, due to the wealth of information that can be gained about both planet and central star. The CoRoT mission has been designed to detect smaller and longer-periodic transiting exoplanets than can be found from ground observations. CoRoT-9b was detected by the satellite in summer 2008 and underwent follow-up observations from ground for another year. It stands out as having the largest periastron distance of all transiting planets, being expected to maintain permanently a moderate surface temperature, estimated between 250 and 430K. It is also the first exoplanet to which planet evolution models can be applied, without uncertain corrections that have been needed for 'hot' transiting planets. These models indicate it to be rather similar to Jupiter. Temperate gas-giant planets with low-to-moderate eccentric orbits constitute the largest group of currently known planets; they are probably similar to the gas giants of the solar system. With CoRoT-9b being this group’s first transiting planet, it may give rise to a much better understanding of these common planets. While CoRoT-9b itself is certainly not habitable, moons around it could be similar to Titan and provide some chance of habitability. Upcoming observations with the Spitzer space telescope are designed to improve on planet parameters and to perform a deeper search for the detection of its moons.