Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Earth siblings can be different!

24.02.2012
Chemical clues on the formation of planetary systems

The study of the photospheric stellar abundances of the planet-host stars is the key to understanding how protoplanets form, as well as which protoplanetary clouds evolve planets and which do not.

These studies, which have important implications for models of giant planet formation and evolution, also help us to investigate the internal and atmospheric structure and composition of extrasolar planets..

Theoretical studies suggest that C/O and Mg/Si, are the most important elemental ratios in determining the mineralogy of terrestrial planets, and they can give us information about the composition of these planets. The C/O ratio controls the distribution of Si among carbide and oxide species, while Mg/Si gives information on the silicate mineralogy. In 2010 Bond et al. (2010b) carried out the first numerical simulations of planet formation in which the chemical composition of the proto-planetary cloud was taken as an input parameter. Terrestrial planets were found to form in all the simulations with a wide variety of chemical compositions so these planets might be very different from the Earth.
Delgado Mena et al. (2010) have carried out the first detailed and uniform study of C, O, Mg and Si abundances for 61 stars with detected planets and 270 stars without detected planets from the homogeneous high-quality unbiased HARPS GTO sample. They found mineralogical ratios quite different from those in the Sun, showing that there is a wide variety of planetary systems which are unlike the Solar System. Many planetary-host stars present a Mg/Si value lower than 1, so their planets will have a high Si content to form species such as MgSiO3. This type of composition can have important implications for planetary processes like plate tectonics, atmospheric composition and volcanism.

'There could be billions of Earthlike planets in the Universe but a great majority of them may have a totally different internal and atmospheric structure. Building planets in chemically non-solar environments (which are very common in the Universe) may lead to the formation of strange worlds, very different from the Earth! The amount of radioactive and some refractory elements (especially Si) may have drastic implications for planetary processes such as plate tectonics and volcanic activity,' concludes Garik Israelian.

The latest numerical simulations have shown that a wide range of extrasolar terrestrial planet bulk compositions are likely to exist. Planets simulated as forming around stars with Mg/Si ratios less than 1 are found to be Mg-depleted (compared to the Earth), consisting of silicate species such as pyroxene and various types of feldspars. Planetary carbon abundances also vary in accordance with the host stars' C/O ratio. The predicted abundances are in keeping with observations of polluted white dwarfs (expected to have accreted their inner planets during their previous red giant stage).
'The observed variations in the key C/O and Mg/Si ratios for known planetary host stars implies that a wide variety of extrasolar terrestrial planet compositions are likely to exist, ranging from relatively "Earthlike" planets to those that are dominated by C, such as graphite and carbide phases (e.g. SiC, TiC),' Delgado Mena stresses.

The results of Delgado Mena et al. (2010) were used in this study as they are the first to determine the abundance of all of the required elements in a completely internally consistent manner, using high quality spectra and an identical approach for all stars and elements, for a large sample of both host and non-host stars.

The chemical and dynamical simulations were combined by assuming that each embryo retains the composition of its formation location and contributes the same composition to the simulated terrestrial planet. The innermost terrestrial planets (located within ∼0.5 AU from the host star) contain a significant amount of the refractory elements Al and Ca (∼47% of the planetary mass). Planets forming beyond ∼0.5 AU from the host star contain steadily less Al and Ca with increasing distance. One planetary system, 55 Cnc, has a C/O ratio above 1 (C/O = 1.12). This system produced carbon-enriched "Earthlike" planets. All of the terrestrial planets considered in this work have compositions dominated by O, Fe, Mg and Si, most of these elements being delivered in the form of silicates or metals (in the case of iron). However, important differences between those planets forming in systems with C/O 0.8 (55Cnc) have been found.

'We are working hard to decrease abundance measurement errors and make the results of theoretical models and numerical simulations more reliable,' comments González Hernández, 'There is much work to be done'.

The members of the research team are: Garik Israelian and Jonay González Hernández (IAC), Elisa Delgado Mena and N. Santos (University of Porto, Portugal), and J. Carter-Bond and D. O'Brien (Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona). These results will be reported in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Garik Israelian | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iac.es

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New NASA study improves search for habitable worlds
20.10.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods
19.10.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>