Astronomers Identify Signature Of Earth-Eating Stars
Some Sun-like stars are ‘Earth-eaters.’ During their development they ingest large amounts of the rocky material from which ‘terrestrial’ planets like Earth, Mars and Venus are made.
Trey Mack, a graduate student in astronomy at Vanderbilt University, has developed a model that estimates the effect that such a diet has on a star’s chemical composition and has used it to analyze a pair of twin stars that both have their own planets.
The results of the study were published online May 7 in the Astrophysical Journal.
“Trey has shown that we can actually model the chemical signature of a star in detail, element by element, and determine how that signature is changed by the ingestion of Earth-like planets,” said Vanderbilt Professor of Astronomy Keivan Stassun, who supervised the study. “After obtaining a high-resolution spectrum for a given star, we can actually detect that signature in detail, element by element.”