NASA Witnesses A Young Star Devouring Planets For The First Time

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 19, 2018

A NASA space telescope noticed that the star suddenly started looking a bit unusual past year.

Observations from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that scientists may have for the first time seen a young star devouring a young planet or planets.

Findings published in The Astronomical Journal on July 18 show that Chandra was able to detect an abundance of iron surrounding RW Aur A. Previous measurements did not show iron at such high levels, so the research team had to grapple with where it may have come from.

Scientists believe episodes of shimmering light 450 light years away from Earth are actually a destructive star "devouring" parts of an alien planet.

Hans Moritz Guenther, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he had never seen anything quite like it before, calling it "a lot stranger than we thought we'd be seeing". A light-year is 5.9 trillion miles.

The new study could explain what caused the star " s most recent dimming event - a collision of two infant planetary bodies, including at least one object large enough to be a planet.

He looked at other possible explanations, and of the two that make sense, he prefers the planet-munching one.

"Much effort now goes into learning about exoplanets and how they form, so it is obviously very important to see how young planets could be destroyed in interactions with their host stars and other young planets, and what factors determine if they survive", Mr Guenther said.

As the cloud gets exceedingly compressed, much of the cloud begins rotating in the same direction.

These "circumstellar" or "protoplanetary" disks, as astronomers call them, are the birthplaces of planets.

Outside experts, however, are so far wary.

"This could be an exciting discovery, but the evidence is circumstantial and not definitive", Harvard's Avi Loeb said.

Guenther's preferred explanation is speculative, said Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science, an expert on planets outside our solar system.

Altre relazioniGrafFiotech

Discuti questo articolo

Segui i nostri GIORNALE