One study has shown that rocky planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, are made of “extraterrestrial” rocks that do not even exist in our planetary system.
Researchers have used telescope data to analyze white dwarfs, which are incredibly dense stellar remnants of dead stars that have run out of nuclear fuel, shedding their outer layers and shrinking to the size of Earth.
Experts have discovered that some exoplanets have rocks that are not found or found on the planets in our solar system.
Because these rocks are so “strange”, scientists have had to come up with new names, including “quartz pyroxenite” and “periclase dunite”.
Some of these rocks may dissolve more water than rocks on Earth, which may have influenced how the oceans formed on these planets before they disappeared.
The new study was led by astronomers in the Noirlab of the National Science Foundation (NSF), an astronomical research center in Tucson, Arizona, in collaboration with geologists at California State University.
“Some of the exoplanets that once orbited polluted white dwarfs are similar to Earth, but most of them contain rocks that are alien to our solar system. They have no direct rivals to the solar system,” said Xu, an astronomer at NOIRLab.
Astronomers have so far discovered thousands of exoplanets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. About 4,374 exoplanets have been confirmed in 3,234 systems since the first exoplanet was discovered in the early 1990s.
According to NASA’s online database, most of these exoplanets are gases like Jupiter or Neptune.
To learn more, Shaw, an astronomer, collaborated with Keith Butterka, a geologist at Fresno at California State University, to study the atmosphere of so-called “polluted” white dwarfs.
These polluted white dwarfs are the dense and broken nuclei of ordinary stars, such as the Sun, which contain foreign objects from planets, asteroids, and other rocks that once orbited the star and eventually fell into the white dwarf and “polluted” its atmosphere.
It is noteworthy that about 98% of the stars in the universe, including our Sun, turn into white dwarfs.
By searching for elements that are not naturally found in the atmosphere of the white dwarf (other than hydrogen and helium), scientists can find out what the rocky planets in the star are.
Using the WM Keck Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, and other observatories in Hawaii, the team studied 23 polluted white dwarfs who discovered calcium, silicon, magnesium, and iron within 650 light-years from the Sun.
Scientists later used measured quantities of those elements to reconstruct the minerals and rocks that could form them.
They found that these white dwarfs have a much wider structure than any of the inner planets in our solar system, indicating that their planets have a variety of rocks.
“Some types of rocks can melt at very low temperatures and produce a crust thicker than Earth’s. Some types of rocks may be weaker, which may contribute to the development of plate tectonics,” Buterka said.
Previous studies have found that white dwarfs pollute elements from rocks, including calcium, aluminum, and lithium.
But these are ‘small elements’ (usually making up a small part of the Earth’s rock), so it is important to know the dimensions of the ‘major elements’ (which make up a large part of the Earth’s rock), especially silicon. There was rock in it, those planets.
High levels of magnesium and low levels of silicon in the white dwarf’s atmosphere indicate that the rock debris found did not come from the planet’s crust, but from the mantle.
Some previous studies of polluted white dwarfs once reported signs of an intercontinental crust on the rocky planets orbiting those stars.
Source: Daily Mail
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