Monday, December 6, 2021

Atmosphere is seen seperating from a planet due to a great impact in nearby star system

Such planetary collisions are probably common in early solar systems, but they haven’t been actually seen. Growing pains are common in young planetary systems when newborn bodies crash and merge to become progressively bigger planets. The Earth and moon are considered to be the results of this sort of massive collision in our own solar system. Astronomers believe that such collisions should be widespread in early systems, but they have proved difficult to witness near other stars.

Astronomers from MIT, the National University of Ireland Galway, Cambridge University, and other institutions have uncovered evidence of a massive impact that happened in a neighboring star system, approximately 95 light-years from Earth. The star, known as HD 172555, is around 23 million years old, and astronomers believe its dust carries evidence of a recent collision.

The MIT-led team discovered new evidence of a massive impact ring surrounding the star. They determined that the collision happened at least 200,000 years ago, at speeds of 10 kilometers per second, or more than 22,000 miles per hour, between an approximately Earth-sized terrestrial planet and a smaller impactor.

They discovered gas, indicating that such a high-speed collision likely blasted away a portion of the bigger planet’s atmosphere, a dramatic event that would explain the observed gas and dust around the star. The findings, published today in Nature, are the first of their type.

According to senior author Tajana Schneiderman, “this is the first time we’ve discovered this phenomenon of a stripped protoplanetary atmosphere in a big impact.” Everyone is interested in seeing a massive impact since we anticipate them to be prevalent, but we don’t have a proof for them in many systems. We now have a better understanding of these processes.

The star HD 172555 has long piqued the interest of astronomers due to the unique makeup of its material. Recent observations have revealed that the star’s dust contains a substantial quantity of unique materials in grains that are considerably finer than astronomers would anticipate for a conventional stellar debris disc.

According to Schneiderman, HD 172555 has been believed to be this strange system because of these two features.

She and her colleagues speculated on what the gas may tell about the system’s impact history. They examined data collected by ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile, which consists of 66 radio telescopes whose spacing may be changed to improve or reduce the resolution of their pictures. The researchers combed through data from the ALMA public archive for indications of carbon monoxide surrounding neighboring stars.

When people want to investigate gas in debris discs, carbon monoxide is generally the brightest and hence the simplest to locate, Schneiderman adds. We revisited the carbon monoxide data for HD 172555 since it was an intriguing system.

The team was able to identify carbon monoxide surrounding the star after doing a rigorous reanalysis. When they tested its quantity, they discovered that the gas accounted for 20% of the carbon monoxide present in Venus’ atmosphere. They also saw that the gas was orbiting in enormous volumes, unexpectedly near to the star, at roughly 10 astronomical units, or 10 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.

Schneiderman believes that the presence of carbon monoxide thus near to the house necessitates some explanation. This is because carbon monoxide is generally susceptible to photodissociation, a process in which photons from a star break down and destroy the molecule. So near to a star, there should be very little carbon monoxide. As a result, the team experimented with several scenarios to explain the gas’s plentiful, close-up look.


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