Twin stars reveal planet-eating habits


Mar 20, 2024

(Nanowerk Information) No less than one in a dozen stars present proof of planetary ingestion in line with a paper printed in Nature (“No less than one in a dozen stars reveals proof of planetary ingestion”).

The worldwide analysis staff studied twin stars that ought to have an identical composition. However, in about eight p.c of instances, they differ, perplexing astronomers.

The staff, led by ASTRO 3D researchers has discovered that the distinction is because of one of many twins devouring planets or planetary materials.

A terrestrial planet being captured by a twin star

A terrestrial planet being captured by a twin star. (Artist’s impression by intouchable, ©OPENVERSE)

The findings have been made attainable because of a big dataset collected with the 6.5-metre Magellan Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Giant Telescope, each in Chile, and the 10-meter Keck Telescope in Hawaii, United States.

“We checked out twin stars travelling collectively. They’re born of the identical molecular clouds and so ought to be an identical,” says ASTRO 3D Researcher Dr Fan Liu, from Monash College, and lead creator of the paper.

“Due to this very excessive precision evaluation, we will see chemical variations between the twins. This offers very robust proof that one of many stars has swallowed planets or planetary materials and altered its composition.”

The phenomenon appeared in about eight per cent of the 91 pairs of dual stars that the staff checked out. What makes this examine compelling is that the celebs have been of their prime of life – so-called major sequence stars, relatively than stars of their ultimate phases resembling crimson giants.

“That is completely different from earlier research the place late-stage stars can engulf close by planets when the star turns into a really large ball,” Dr. Liu says.

There’s some room for doubt as as to if the celebs are swallowing planets entire or engulfing protoplanetary materials however Dr. Liu suspects each are attainable.

“It is sophisticated. The ingestion of the entire planet is our favoured state of affairs however after all we will additionally not rule out that these stars have ingested a variety of materials from a protoplanetary disk,” he says.

The findings have wide-ranging implications for the examine of the long-term evolution of planetary techniques.

“Astronomers used to consider that these sorts of occasions weren’t attainable. However from the observations in our examine, we will see that, whereas the incidence will not be excessive, it’s really attainable. This opens a brand new window for planet evolution theorists to check,” says Affiliate Professor Yuan-Sen Ting, a co-author and an ASTRO 3D researcher from the Australian Nationwide College (ANU).

The examine varieties half of a bigger collaboration, the Full Census of Co-moving Pairs of Objects (C3PO) initiative to spectroscopically observe a whole pattern of all vivid co-moving stars recognized by the Gaia astrometric satellite tv for pc, which is collectively led by Liu, Ting, and Affiliate Professor David Yong (additionally with ASTRO 3D at ANU).

“The findings introduced right here contribute to the massive image of a key ASTRO 3D analysis theme: the Chemical Evolution of the Universe. Particularly, they make clear the distribution of chemical parts and their subsequent journey, which incorporates being consumed by stars,” stated Professor Emma Ryan-Weber, Director of ASTRO 3D.

Scientists from Australia’s Swinburne College of Know-how, College School Cork in Eire, Carnegie Observatories, Ohio State College, Dartmouth School in United States, Konkoly Observatory in Hungry, and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy took half within the analysis.

Word: The researchers labored with twin stars often called co-natal – borne in the identical molecular clouds and travelling collectively. They don’t seem to be essentially binary stars, although a few of the pairs have been.


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