Sunday, June 23, 2024

A “strange” exoplanet will hide its all-iron composition past its demise

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An international team of astronomers has revealed that a strange exoplanet, located 31 light-years from Earth in the Virgo galaxy, is denser than previously thought and a solid ball of metal.

Known as Gliese 367 b, or Tahay, the planet orbits a nearby red dwarf star, and little was known about it until scientists recently decided to delve deeper into the mystery of its mineral composition.

The study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, provides precise measurements of the planet’s mass and radius.

Taihai consists mostly of rock and iron and is about the same size as Earth, allowing it to be captured by current techniques.

“You can compare GJ 367 b to an Earth-like planet whose lithosphere has been stripped away,” lead author Elisa Coffo of the University of Turin told ScienceAlert.

Tahai was first discovered in 2021 by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey (TESS) Space Telescope system as it orbited its small, faint red dwarf star. Scientists at the time declared it to be a planet with a very short orbit, as it orbited its host star in 7.7 hours, a mysterious and poorly studied category of exoplanets.

Scientists at the time pointed out that Gliese 367 b is a rocky world about 70% the size of Earth and 55% the mass, making it one of the lightest exoplanets known.

But the latest research showed something that shocked scientists, the results found that Dahai is denser than what the 2021 study found.

GJ 367 b is defined as an ultradense exoplanet. According to the new data, the exoplanet has a radius of 70% that of Earth instead of the previously estimated 72%, and its mass is 63% that of Earth instead of 55%.

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The team concluded that Dahai’s density is twice that of Earth. The secret is that Taihai may have experienced a cataclysmic event in the past that was mostly made of metal.

According to the study authors, this information can be proven by combining new measurements from TESS and the HARPS spectrometer, which is attached to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescope.

Joao suggested that this celestial body had a formation process similar to Earth’s, and that it appeared to have “a dense core composed mainly of iron, surrounded by a silicate-rich mantle”.

Hypotheses about its origin suggest that “a cataclysmic event could tear apart the rocky mantle and empty the planet’s dense core,” the astronomer said. This may have happened due to collisions between GJ 367 b and other protoplanets, stripping off its outer layer. Joao proposed a third theory, in which the planet is believed to have been “born in an iron-rich region of the protoplanetary disk”.

Source: The Sun

Stuart Wagner
Stuart Wagner
"Professional coffee fan. Total beer nerd. Hardcore reader. Alcohol fanatic. Evil twitter buff. Friendly tv scholar."

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