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Some stars could "eat" their planets: scientists intrigued by discovery

Anna OnishchenkoNews
Some stars could "eat" their planets. Source: Generated by SHI

The universe constantly surprises us with its secrets. Scientists make new discoveries that force us to reconsider our understanding of how the world works.

One such recent discovery is that sometimes stars can swallow their planets. This phenomenon was described in more detail in a study led by astronomer Fan Liu from Monash University in Australia.

Fortunately, our planetary system has remained stable for 4.5 billion years, but not everyone is so lucky. A new study of pairs of twin stars located 70 light-years away from our solar system has made scientists realize that sometimes stars simply swallow their planets.

Twin stars are stars that formed in the same interstellar cloud of gas and dust, so they have the same chemical composition and approximately the same mass and age.

To study them, scientists used the European Space Agency's Gaia Observatory, as well as telescopes in Chile and Hawaii.

While studying the twin stars, scientists noticed that in at least 7 cases out of 91, one of them contains iron, nickel, or titanium. These elements could only get there if a rocky planet was absorbed.

"This really puts our random position in the universe into perspective... The stability of a planetary system like the solar system is not a given," said astrophysicist and co-author Yuan-Hsien Ting.

Some stars could ''eat'' their planets: scientists intrigued by discovery

According to the researchers, the cause of this phenomenon may be, in particular, an orbital disturbance caused by a massive celestial body flying too close to the planetary system, which changes gravity.

As we know, at the end of our Sun's existence, it will expand and probably also swallow the Earth, but the twin stars in the study were in the prime of their lives, not nearing their end.

Instability in planetary systems turned out to be more common than the scientific community had previously thought, given that about 8% of the star pairs studied contained one star that had apparently swallowed a planet.

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