Izay Ayesha describes a remarkable discovery
The human race has always thought that Earth’s abode is radically different from the rest of the planetary system. The human race appeared convinced that Mother Earth was blessed with unique attributes that gave birth to live and that other planets are bereft of such attributes. There are some commonalities between earth and other planets.
New research however points out that Earth’s ingredients are uncannily similar to those found in planetary systems up to 465 light-years away. This is a startling discovery belying the long-held belief of the human race. The research was underpinned by the sophistication of the current strong battery of very powerful telescopes that successfully measured the compositions of 18 different planetary systems and compared them to the ingredients of the Earth.
And the research came up with the conclusion that many elements constituting Earth are similar to the elements present on these planets in similar proportions. The research is considered one of the largest investigations carried out to determine the composition of materials in planetary systems beyond the Earth.
The research has significantly added to the levels of understanding of planetary formation and it has provided ample opportunities to find out more about Earth’s relationship with the overall planetary world. The similarities explored in the ingredients may strengthen the theory that the entire planetary system came into being according to a pre-conceived formula.
Looking at Earth from this angle the research has brought to fore the fact that the creation of Earth appears quite normal when viewed in the backdrop of its similarities with elements responsible for the creation of the planetary system. The research has raised the possibilities of discovering Earth-like planets elsewhere in the galaxy.
Difficult To Examine
It was very difficult to examine the ingredients of these remotely placed planets due to the vast distance. Moreover, the nearby located stars tend to drown out any electromagnetic signals such as light or radio waves hampering efforts to explore the distant planets.
To obviate this difficulty it was decided to go through a class of stars known as White Dwarfs to help work out the composition of the planets. White Dwarfs are the small, dense remnants of stars that have burnt off most of their hydrogen and helium fuel.
The instruments used for the research include spectrographs on the Keck Telescope in Hawaii which is considered the world’s largest optical and infrared telescope along with the Hubble Space Telescope to analyze electromagnetic signals coming from the White Dwarfs.
Spectrographs spread white light into its component colors, a spectrum in which the chemical “fingerprints” of different materials can be identified. It is known that White Dwarfs atmospheres are composed of either hydrogen or helium that provide a pretty clear and clean spectroscopic signal but as the star cools, it begins to pull in material from the planets, asteroids, and comets that had been orbiting it, with some forming a dust disk, a little like the rings of Saturn.
Once this material approaches the star it brings about changes that are visible. This change is measurable because it influences the star’s spectroscopic signal and allows identifying the type and even the quantity of material surrounding the White Dwarf.
It was discovered that among the elements found in the disks surrounding the White Dwarfs are calcium, magnesium, silicon, and perhaps even water in one of the systems, although the presence of water has not been specifically quantified.
Commonalities Between Earth And Other Planets
It is however considered likely that there exists lots of water in some of these planets such as the previously identified one-star system that is located 170 light-years away in the constellation Boötes which was found rich in carbon, nitrogen, and water, giving a composition similar to that of Halley’s Comet.
The research is an ongoing process with a view to determining the chemical compositions of planetary material outside the solar system with much higher precision. Scientists were surprised to notice that studying exo-planet interiors was carried through ripped-apart planets absorbed by their White Dwarf host star.
They however welcomed the progress achieved by the research that has produced solid evidence that planets with Earth-like compositions are common fueling the confidence that an Earth-like planet around a very nearby normal star is out there waiting to be found. The possibility is very exciting indeed. The Weekender