A real-life death star that is said to be consuming its planets has been spotted by astronomers including those from University of Chicago.
The star named HIP68468 has been described as a twin to our Sun in the study published in the journal “Astronomy and Astrophysics” and according to the authors, this particular planetary system could provide us new information about how planetary systems like our Solar System evolve and what will be their fate over the course of billions of years.
The predatory host star may have quite a lot similarities with our Sun, but while that’s true researchers are quick to point out that our Sun won’t be going rogue anytime soon and won’t start consuming the planets anytime soon. Researchers also point out that such a predatory behaviour of the star is part and parcel of a planetary system as it evolves.
Located at a distance of 300 light years away from us, the star has been studied as part of a multi-year project that is geared towards discovering planets that orbit solar twins. The study of the star has been described as a sort of post-mortem of the planet formation and planetary evolution process as it is tricky to draw conclusions from a single system to study more stars like this to see whether this is a common outcome.
Analysis of the star through telescopes has led researchers to determine its composition and according to findings, the star is said to have consumed its nearby planets. It contains four times more lithium than would be expected for a star that is six billion years old, as well as a surplus of refractory elements — metals resistant to heat that are abundant in rocky planets, the research found.
Scientists used the 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile to discover their first exoplanet in 2015. There have been more recent discoveries around the star – a planet that can be described as a super Neptune and the other one that can be described as a super Earth – but they need to be confirmed. Researchers say that their orbits are surprisingly close to their host star, with one 50 per cent more massive than Neptune and located at a Venus-like distance from its star.
The scientists said that these two planets most likely did not form where they see them today. Chances are that these planets were formed away from the star, but migrated inward from the outer parts of the planetary system. Other planets could have been ejected from the system — or ingested by their host star.