A galaxy far-far away may be closer than you think.
A team of researchers at the University College London (UCL), a top multidisciplinary university in the UK, has recently found evidence of planetary debris surrounding a double sun, ‘Tatooine-like’ system.
Published on February 27th in the Nature Astronomy, a study explains the phenomenon of broken asteroids’ remains revolving around a double sun comprising a white dwarf and a brown dwarf, some 1,000 light-years away in a system called SDSS 1557.
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According to the UCL researchers, the discovery is huge since the debris seems to be rocky and proposes that terrestrial planets similar to Tatooine – Luke and Anakin Skywalker’s home world in Star Wars – might be in the system.
It is interesting to mention here that all exoplanets, previously found in orbit around double stars until today, are only gas giants just like planet Jupiter which is thought to form in the icy areas of their systems.
But the planetary material discovered in the SDSS 1557 system bears high metal content, including silicon and magnesium.
“Building rocky planets around two suns is a challenge because the gravity of both stars can push and pull tremendously, preventing bits of rock and dust from sticking together and growing into full-fledged planets. With the discovery of asteroid debris in the SDSS 1557 system, we see clear signatures of rocky planet assembly via large asteroids that formed, helping us understand how rocky exoplanets are made in double star systems,” said lead author, Dr Jay Farihi.
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The UCL team is also surprised at their discovery since it assumed the dusty white dwarf was a single star.
In the Solar System, the asteroid belt is made up of the leftover building blocks for the planets Earth, Mars, Mercury, and Venus; therefore, planetary scientists study asteroids. The UCL team said they used the same method.
In February, researchers also announced a stunning discovery of seven Earth-like planets orbiting a small star in the galaxy.