Even dying stars can still form planets

(ORDO NEWS) — Usually the age of the planet is close to the age of the star. So, the Sun was formed about 4.6 billion years ago, and the Earth was formed shortly after that.

However, in a new study, astronomers have found that some types of stars can form planets even at the very end of their life cycle – when the luminaries are already close to death. If this is confirmed, the theory of planet formation will require revision.

The Earth formed from a giant disk that surrounded the young Sun, called an accretion disk, but similar disks form around binary systems of highly evolved stars.

In this case, a medium-sized star such as our Sun, nearing the end of its life cycle, sheds the outer part of its atmosphere into space, and the gravity of another star forms a flat, rotating disk of this material.

In a new study, a team led by Jacques Kluska of KU Leuven, Belgium, has been able to detect signs of planet formation in accretion disks surrounding binary systems with evolved stars.

Moreover, the authors showed that every tenth such system demonstrates these signs of the presence of planets.

“In 10 percent of the cases when observing evolved binary systems with disks, we recorded the presence of a large cavity or gap in the disk.

This shows that in the vicinity of the stars there is some kind of object that collects all the matter from the disk and forms a cavity,” Kuska said.

This discovery was made as a result of observations of a set of evolved binary stars located in our Milky Way galaxy. Kluska and his colleagues were able to find 85 such double stars.

In 10 of these systems, the researchers observed a disk with a large cavity in infrared images.

Now astronomers from KU Leuven want to test their hypothesis with their own hands. For this purpose, they will use the large telescopes of the European Southern Observatory, located in Chile, to take a closer look at these 10 double stars with disks showing large cavities.


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