A comparison of 754 nearby stars like our sun - some with planets and some without - shows definitively that the more iron and other metals there are in a star, the greater the chance it has a companion planet.
"Astronomers have been saying that only 5 percent of stars have planets, but that’s not a very precise assessment," said Debra Fischer, a research astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley. "We now know that stars which are abundant in heavy metals are five times more likely to harbor orbiting planets than are stars deficient in metals. If you look at the metal-rich stars, 20 percent have planets. That’s stunning."
"The metals are the seeds from which planets form," added colleague Jeff Valenti, an assistant astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md.
Robert Sanders | EurekAlert!
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