Astrophysicists managed to find a "shortcut" to aliens

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Astrophysicists managed to find a "shortcut" to aliens
Astrophysicists managed to find a "shortcut" to aliens

The relatively calm history of the development of our solar system contributed to the emergence and prosperity of life on Earth. To find where else living organisms can exist in space, you need to narrow your search to identify systems with the same peaceful past as our planet.

For about 30 years, astronomers have been studying planets orbiting stars, some of which are very different from our solar system. Unlike the stable and nearly circular trajectory of "our" planets, whose orbits have hardly changed since their inception, many planetary systems orbiting other stars have undergone metamorphoses in the past.

Astrophysicists have found that 20% to 35% of Sun-like stars feed on their own planets, according to an article in the journal Nature Astronomy. The closest figure to the truth is 27%. Consequently, at least a quarter of the planetary systems orbiting stars similar to the Sun had a very chaotic and dynamic past.

Double stars can help detect life in space

The gravity of exoplanetary systems, which show significant movement of large or medium planets, could also disrupt the trajectories of other planets or even push them into unstable orbits.

For most of these dynamic systems, it is likely that some planets have fallen into the "sphere of influence" of the parent star. Until recently, there was no evidence of how common such chaotic systems were compared to quieter systems such as ours, which contributed to the flourishing of life on Earth. This was achieved by analyzing the chemical composition of binary stars.

Binary stars - also called binary systems - are made up of two stars orbiting each other. Since both stars usually formed at the same time from the same gas, they must contain the same combination of elements.

Astrophysicists are approaching the search for extraterrestrial civilizations

After studying the chemical composition of 107 binaries of solar-like stars by analyzing the spectrum of light they emit, it was determined how many stars contain more planetary material than their companion star.

The differences in chemical composition are due to the "eating" of the planets.

  1. Stars with a thinner outer layer are more likely to be iron-rich than their companions. This approach fits into the "eating planets" hypothesis, since when planetary material dissolves in a thinner layer, it greatly changes the chemical composition of the layer.
  2. The stars richer in iron and other elements of rocky planets also contain more lithium than their satellites. Lithium quickly decays in stars, while it is stored on planets. The abnormally high level of lithium in the star should have appeared after the formation of the star, which is consistent with the idea that lithium was carried by the planet until it was "eaten" by the star.
  3. Stars that contain more iron than their companion also contain more iron than similar stars in the Galaxy. However, these same stars have a standard carbon content, which is a volatile element and for this reason is not transported by rocks. Consequently, these stars were chemically enriched with planetary rock or planetary material.

The results of this study are a breakthrough in stellar astrophysics and exoplanet research.It turned out that "eating planets" can not only change the chemical composition of stars like the Sun, but also the fact that a significant part of their planetary systems have experienced a very dynamic past, unlike our solar system.

Thus, scientists have the opportunity to use chemical analysis to identify stars that are more likely to be analogous to our solar system. Without this method, trying to find a second Earth among a million stars would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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