Scientists discover a mysterious solar system. nothing like us.

We know space is rife with mystery. Adding to the intrigues, astronomers recently found an ancient solar system very different from our cosmic home.

About 90 light-years away, researchers have discovered a white dwarf star more than 10 billion years old — which means the residual hot core of a dead star similar to the Sun — surrounded by a cemetery of scattered scattered planets, called minor planets. The fading star pulled debris out of these things. But this solar system is unlike anything around us. It is packed with elements like lithium and potassium. Crucially, there are no planets in our solar system that have such a configuration.

Why was this ancient solar system in our Milky Way so different? How did you become so rich in these substances that were scarce at the time?

“It’s a complete mystery,” Abigail Elms, a doctoral student at the University of Warwick who searches for white dwarfs, told Mashable. The research was published this week in the journal Science Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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As mentioned above, this solar system Old. This means that the white dwarf (named WDJ2147-4035) and the surrounding solar system formed and died before the Sun and Earth were even born. In fact, the parts of the previous planets around WDJ2147-4035 are also Elms noted that the oldest small planets found in our galaxy are around a white dwarf.

How do astronomers know what this ancient solar system consisted of?

They discovered this white dwarf, and another of the same age, using an observatory in space called Gaia. While orbiting the sun, this distant spacecraft is mapping stars and galaxies in the universe. After discovering these white dwarfs, the researchers then turned to an instrument called “X-Shooter”, located at a high altitude in Chile, to discover what is and what is not in the atmospheres of stars (X-Shooter is a kind of very valuable astronomical instrument called “” Spectrometer”). In WDJ2147-4035, they find chemicals like lithium, potassium, and sodium have accumulated — or pulled up by gravity and stacked — the old star. The researchers concluded that white dwarfs are made of hydrogen or helium, so the planet’s rocky remains were responsible for providing the other unique elements (by running simulations of the evolution of this solar system).

Artist’s depiction of planetary masses (minor planets) orbiting white dwarf stars.
Credit: University of Warwick / Mark Garlick

Interestingly, the other white dwarf (WDJ1922+0233) they discovered was significantly different from the mysterious dwarf. It is more familiar. They determined that this star had pulled out debris that looked like the Earth’s rocky crust. So although one solar system is still anomaly, the other shows that Earth is not unique in the universe: there are other solar systems that are somewhat similar.

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However, these two solar systems are filled with the tombs of former planets. More than 95 percent of stars, like the Sun, evolve into white dwarfs. Towards the end of their lives, they expand into massive red giants, destroying or disabling nearby objects. As our sun expands, it will swallow up planets like Mercury, Venus and possibly even Earth, before their outer layers fall off. The red giants will leave behind the scattered remnants of planets and moons. The remaining star itself will be a white dwarf.

This is our cosmic destiny. Just not for long, long, long.

“Our sun will evolve into a white dwarf, in about 5 billion years,” Elm said.


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