Astronomers Discover First Tatooine-Like Star System

Posted: Feb 28 2017, 6:40am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

Astronomers Discover First Tatooine-Like Star System
The white dwarf is the burn-out core of a star that was probably similar to the Sun, the brown dwarf is only ~60 times heavier than Jupiter, and the two stars go around each other in only a bit over two hours. Credit: Mark Garlick, UCL, University of Warwick and University of Sheffield
  • SDSS 1557, a new star system discovered by astronomers

UCL-led team of researchers find first evidence of a planetary debris surrounding a double sun, 'Tatooine-like' system.

Some remains were found in SDSS1557 by scientists. The remains are of shattered asteroids that orbited double sun having white dwarf, and a brown dwarf that were 1000 light years away in SDSS 1557.

It’s a great discovery, because the remains are rocky that shows that terrestrial planets, including Tatooine, Luke Skywalker's home world in Star Wars might be present in the system.

The exoplanets discovered so far are gassy just like Jupiter, and they form in the icy regions. But, the SDSS 1557 has metal contents, like silicon and magnesium.

Scientists detected these elements because their remains appeared on surface and polluted the star surface with at least 1017 g (or 1.1 trillion US tons) of metal content, equating it to an asteroid at least 4 km in size.

It’s amazing to build rocky planets around the two suns, as the gravity of the stars create push and pull affect preventing the rocks to stick together, and make a huge planet. But, the discovery of remains of SDSS 1557 system shows that rocky planets formed due to asteroids.

The study helped scientists found how the rocky planets develop in the double star system, said Lead author, Dr. Jay Farihi (UCL Physics & Astronomy).

Scientists studied asteroids to understand the formation of rocky and habitable planets. As solar system has asteroid belts that have remains of terrestrial planets like mercury, mars, earth and Venus, so that help scientists study the formation of rocky planets.

The new discovery was a surprise for scientists, because they thought that dusty white dwarf was the only star there, but another star was also detected by co-author Dr. Steven Parsons (University of Valparaíso and University of Sheffield).

Though, the team had detected thousands of systems like SDSS 1557, but finding asteroid debris happened for the first time.The dust covered the brown dwarf which was later detected by a powerful instrument. Scientists found that the brown dwarf had gravitational pull on the white dwarf.

The discovery helped scientists study the chemical composition and binary system of the debris through the measurement of different wavelengths of spectra by Gemini Observatory South telescope and the European Southern Observatory which are located in Chile.

But, Co-author Professor Boris Gänsicke (University of Warwick) found that the metals that were discovered on white dwarf disappeared after few weeks and went down the surface.

This study is published in Nature Astronomy and was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the European Research Council.

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