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Weird rocky exoplanets unlike any seen before

9 Nov 2021, 12:05 UTC
Weird rocky exoplanets unlike any seen before
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Artist’s illustration of weird rocky exoplanets, or debris from a rocky planet that has broken up around a white dwarf star. A new study of 23 white dwarfs shows that many of those rocky planets were stranger in composition than any in our own solar system. Image via NOIRLab/ NSF/ AURA/ J. da Silva/ W. M. Keck Observatory.
Exoplanets – worlds orbiting other stars – appear to be scattered throughout our Milky Way galaxy. Astronomers estimate they number in the billions. A good percentage of those worlds are rocky, like Earth or Mars in our solar system, for example. But are they similar? Researchers from NOIRLab and California State University, Fresno, announced on November 2, 2021, that there are many weird rocky exoplanets, unlike any found in our solar system.
The researchers analyzed the elemental remains of such worlds that “polluted” the atmospheres of their host stars – evolved stars known as white dwarfs – after the planets disintegrated. The peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications published the intriguing results on November 2.
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