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Ancient Stars Shed Light on Earth’s Similarities to Other Planets

22 Oct 2019, 20:57 UTC
Ancient Stars Shed Light on Earth’s Similarities to Other Planets
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Earth-like planets may be common in the universe, a new UCLA study implies. The team of astrophysicists and geochemists presents new evidence that the Earth is not unique. The study was published in the journal Science on Oct. 18.“We have just raised the probability that many rocky planets are like the Earth, and there’s a very large number of rocky planets in the universe,” said co-author Edward Young, UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry.The scientists, led by Alexandra Doyle, a UCLA graduate student of geochemistry and astrochemistry, developed a new method to analyze in detail the geochemistry of planets outside of our solar system. Doyle did so by analyzing the elements in rocks from asteroids or rocky planet fragments that orbited six white dwarf stars.“We’re studying geochemistry in rocks from other stars, which is almost unheard of,” Young said.“Learning the composition of planets outside our solar system is very difficult,” said co-author Hilke Schlichting, UCLA associate professor of astrophysics and planetary science. “We used the only method possible — a method we pioneered — to determine the geochemistry of rocks outside of the solar system.”White dwarf stars are dense, burned-out remnants of normal stars. Their strong gravitational pull causes heavy ...

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