Planets are devoured by sun-like stars in the chaotic regions of space.
Astronomers have discovered that up to a quarter of stars like the Sun eat their own planets, implying that they have a chaotic and violent history.
By investigating exoplanet systems where the orbit of one planet seemed to be affecting the orbit of the other, an international team lead by Lorenzo Spina, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, discovered signs that such a process might be occurring.
This led astronomers to conclude that if the disruptions were severe enough, planets may fall into and be eaten by their parent star.
The only issue, according to the researchers, is that this idea is impossible to evaluate just by looking at current planetary systems.
“It’s also conceivable that some of the planets in most of these highly active systems have collided with the main star. In an article for The Conversation, Spina noted, “However, we didn’t know how frequent these chaotic systems are relative to quieter systems like ours.” “It would be quite difficult to figure this out by examining exoplanetary systems directly, even with the most exact astronomical gear available.”
The scientists disclosed in a report published in the journal Nature Astronomy that studying stars that originate together in binary systems holds the key to solving this puzzle and predicting how many planetary systems are likely to have stars that swallow their planets.
According to the authors of the study, stars that originate together and orbit each other in binary pairs should have the same chemical make-up. This is due to the fact that they are both made up of gas clouds comprising hydrogen, helium, and some heavier elements.
Observations of binary pairs of stars, on the other hand, demonstrate that the chemical abundances of one stellar partner in the pairing are occasionally different from the other. This could be because a planet has been devoured by a star, and the chemical elements from that world have enriched the star’s outer layers.
To see if this is the case, the researchers looked at 107 different binary star systems including stars that are similar to the Sun, looking for stars with a higher proportion of stars that are similar to the Sun. This is a condensed version of the information.