Saturday, 16 June 2012

Planets Can Form Around Different Types of Stars

It had previously been thought that planets were more likely to form around a star if the star had a high content of heavier elements. But new research from the University of Copenhagen, among others, shows that small planets can form around very different types of stars – also stars that are relatively poor in heavy elements. This significantly increases the likelihood that Earth-like planets are widespread in the universe. The results have been published in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature.
The conclusion, says Lars A. Buchhave, is that these observations mean that Earth-like planets could be widespread throughout our galaxy, as they have no special requirements for an elevated content of heavy elements in stars in order to be formed. This conclusion resonates well with the picture that is emerging of the distribution of small planets in our galaxy, namely that it seems more the rule than the exception that a star has small planets orbiting them.

Because small Earth-like planets are not dependent upon a high content of heavy elements in their host star, they could be both widespread and could have been formed earlier in our galaxy

Discoveries such as this increase the likelihood of life existing elsewhere in the Universe if you accept the thinking behind the Drake Equation.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, June 16th, 2012.]

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