Astronomers Discover A New Class Of Planets Outside Solar System

Posted: Dec 21 2018, 1:51pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 21 2018, 1:55pm CST , in Latest Science News


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Astronomers Discover a New Class of Planets Outside Solar System
Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

HD219134 b is one of three candidates that belong to a new class of super-Earths with this exotic composition.

There are potentially thousands of planets that exist outside our solar system. These worlds that orbit around other stars are called exoplanets and they come in wide range of compositions from rocky core, icy planets to hot gas giants and possibly super-Earths, planets massive than Earth. Now, researchers believe that they have discovered a new, exotic class of exoplanets. These so-called super-Earths orbit very close to their host star and are rich in calcium and aluminium as well as their oxides sapphire and ruby.

One of the most interesting planets discovered in this category is a planet orbiting its star every three days. The planet, dubbed HD219134 b, has the mass of five Earths and is located twenty-one light years away from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia.

“Perhaps it shimmers red to blue like rubies and sapphires, because these gemstones are aluminium oxides which are common on the exoplanet.” Astrophysicist Caroline Dorn from University of Zurich said.

So far, researchers have identified three potential candidates outside our solar system that belong to this new, exotic class of exoplanets. They studied their formation using theoretical models and compared their results with previous observations.

Researchers know that stars such as the sun were surrounded by a disc of gas and dust in which planets were born. When the proto-planetary gas disc dispersed, it created Earth-like Earth and these planets were formed in regions where rock-forming elements such as iron, magnesium and silicon are abundant. But there are also regions that are closer to the star and release more heat. The planets that were formed in this region must have an unusual composition and the formation processes of these planets might have been very different from that of most other super-Earths.

Modeling suggests that these planets most likely do not have a massive core of iron, but contain high quantities of calcium and aluminium. Since the inner structure of these planets is so different, their cooling behavior and atmospheres can also differ from those of normal super-Earths.

"What is exciting is that these objects are completely different from the majority of Earth-like planets, if they actually exist,” said Dorn. "In our calculations, we found that these planets have 10 to 20 percent lower densities than the Earth."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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