“University of Michigan”
According to a study by the University of Copenhagen, almost half of the Sun-sized stars are binary. The study shows that planetary systems around binary stars are quite different from those around individual stars, suggesting new targets in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Since Earth, the only planet known to harbor life, orbits the Sun, planetary systems around similar-sized stars are obvious targets for astronomers trying to find life beyond Earth.
They note that the process of equipping a search mission with many new and more powerful instruments in the coming years to search for life reinforces the importance of understanding how planets form around different types of stars. These findings could identify places where the search for life might be more interesting, says Professor Jess Christian Jørgensen of the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, who is leading the project.
The researchers carried out their study after new findings based on observations made by the ALMA telescope in Chile of a young binary star about 1,000 light-years from Earth.
The binary star system NGC 1333-IRAS2A is surrounded by a ring of gas and dust. The observations may provide researchers with a snapshot of a specific point in the evolution of a binary star system, however, so the team supplemented the observations with computer simulations.
The researchers said: “Observations allow us to zoom in on stars and study how dust and gas move, and simulations of the physics that play a key role in how stars form can tell us the snapshot we observe and their future evolution.”
The two stars orbit each other, and sometimes their common gravity causes large amounts of material to fall toward the star, affecting the surrounding disk of gas and dust, and these explosions tear the disk of gas and dust apart. . As the disc reaccretes, the explosions may still affect the structure of the subsequent planetary system.
The observed star system is still young enough to form planets. The team hopes to get more observing time at ALMA, allowing the investigation of the formation of planetary systems, and focus not only on planets, but also on comets.
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