Planetary Diet

Look out – it’s the attack of the planet-eating suns!

 This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

When two stars form at the same time, they should be chemically identical … like twins! But some pairs are more like distant cousins. And as it turns out – they can have vastly different appetites!

Enter Lorenzo Spina from Italy’s Astronomical Observatory of Padua and colleagues. 

By examining light absorption patterns, the researchers compared the chemical composition of over one-hundred pairs of stars! Each star was similar in temperature to our sun.

Turns out, a third of the pairs differed in chemical make-up! Some stars contained more heavy metals, like iron and lithium, than their siblings. But how did they absorb these elements?

By SWALLOWING UP rocky planets, like Earth! The team estimates a quarter of sun-like stars get hangry for nearby planets. And…gulp!

But don’t worry – OUR sun hasn’t swallowed any planets. The researchers do suggest we avoid planet-eating suns when searching for Earth 2.0. Good advice!

I guess even in space – a planet-based diet is a healthy choice!

Reference: Spina, L., Sharma, P., Meléndez, J., Bedell, M., Casey, A. R., Carlos, M., Franciosini, E., & Vallenari, A. (2021). Chemical evidence for planetary ingestion in a quarter of Sun-like stars. Nature Astronomy. Published.