Building blocks of Earth-like planets discovered around star system

November 15th, 2007 - 4:17 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 15 (ANI): Astronomers have discovered colliding planet embryos around the star HD 23514 which might be the building blocks for many rocky terrestrial planets like Earth, Mars or Venus in the star system.
The hypothesis for the formation of these planets was made when an infrared sensitive camera on the Gemini North Telescope, measured heat from hot dust surrounding a 100 million year old star known as HD 23514 in the Pleiades star system.
The star has properties very much like our Sun except that it is 45 times younger and is orbited by hundreds of thousands of times more dust than our Sun. The star is also one of the very few solar-type stars known to be orbited by warm dust particles.
The warm emissions appear to originate from dust located in the terrestrial planet zone between about 1/4 to two astronomical units (AUs) from the parent star HD 23514, a region corresponding to the orbits of Mercury and Mars in our solar system .
Researchers from the UCLA (University of California) interpret the presence of so much hot dust as a result of colliding planetary embryos leading to the conclusion that a recent collision occurred between relatively large rocky bodies.
According to Benjamin Zuckerman from the UCLA, this is thought to be similar to the encounter that produced the Earth- Moon system more than four billions ago.
“Indeed, the collision that generated the Moon sent a comparable mass of debris into interplanetary orbits as is now observed in HD 23514,” said Zuckerman.
“This is the first clear evidence for planet formation in the Pleiades, and the results we are presenting strongly suggest that terrestrial planets like those in our solar system are quite common,” said Joseph Rhee, lead author of the research.
The astronomers analyzing the emission from countless microscopic dust particles propose that the most likely explanation is that they were crushed in the violent collision of planets or ‘planetary embryos’.
Inseok Song of the Spitzer Science Center calls the dust particles as the ‘building blocks of planets,’ which accumulate into comets and small asteroid-size bodies, and then clump together to form planetary embryos, and finally full-fledged planets.
“In the process of creating rocky, terrestrial planets, some objects collide and grow into planets, while others shatter into dust. We are seeing that dust,” said Song. (ANI)

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