White dwarfs are dim, dense remnants of stars similar to the Sun that have exhausted their nuclear fuel and blown off their outer layers. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Earth’s building blocks seem to be built from ‘pretty normal’ ingredients, according to researchers working with the world’s most powerful telescopes. Scientists have measured the compositions of 18 different planetary systems from up to 456 light years away and compared them to ours, and found that many elements are present in similar proportions to those found on Earth.
This is amongst the largest examinations to measure the general composition of materials in other planetary systems, and begins to allow scientists to draw more general conclusions on how they are forged, and what this might mean for finding Earth-like bodies elsewhere.
“Most of the building blocks we have looked at in other planetary systems have a composition broadly similar to that of the Earth”, says researcher Dr Siyi Xu of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, who was presenting the work at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston, United States.
The first planets orbiting other stars were only found in 1992 (this was orbiting a pulsar), since then scientists have been trying to understand whether ...