Unique rocks discovered in the exoplanet graveyards

Unique rocks discovered in the exoplanet graveyards

The Rocks on the Exoplanets

Within the ruins of alien worlds blasted apart by their dying host stars, astronomers uncovered never-before-seen rock varieties made composed of odd mineral ratios. According to the findings, exoplanets are made of a significantly broader range of materials than previously imagined.

Only one white dwarf contains the exoplanets’ remains of with a geological makeup that is similar to the Earth, said researchers. The researchers discovered the remains of exoplanets formed of alien rocks never seen on our planet or anywhere else in the solar system among the remainder of the dead stars. The rocks were so unlike to those previously identified by science that the researchers had to coin new names to categorise them.

“While some exoplanets that historically orbited white dwarfs resemble Earth in appearance, the majority contain rock compositions that are unique to our solar system,” stated lead author Siyi Xu. She works at the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory in Arizona as an astronomer. She went on to say that they have no direct parallels in the solar system.

Comparison of Interior and Exterior 

Previously, research into the atmospheres of polluted white dwarfs focused on whether or not exoplanets would have a continental crust similar to Earth’s. Scientists believe that a continent’s crust is essential for supporting life on a planet because it provides a stable structure for evolution to take place. The presence of crusts on exoplanets could thus provide insight into the existence of extraterrestrial life or the likelihood of discovering an Earth-like exoplanet.

Continental crusts may not even be detectable within a polluted white dwarf, according to the researchers, because they make up such a minuscule fraction of an exoplanet’s mass. “The crust makes up less than 0.5 percent of the overall mass of the Earth,” Putirka stated. “It will not be possible to watch crustal compositions if the planets are incorporated wholesale in the white dwarf atmospheres.”

However, this does not rule out the possibility of finding continental crusts among exoplanets. Instead, the scientists believe that learning more about the minerals found in a planet’s mantle will provide them with additional information. It would reveal if those worlds were likely to have supported a crust or even plate tectonics. These are overlapping parts of the continental crust that shift and clash, causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

“The thermodynamic and physical qualities of a mantle that includes no olivine but contains quartz, or a mantle that contains no orthopyroxene but contains periclase, might be substantially different and could alter the kind, thickness, and extension of crust,” Putirka said. “To properly comprehend the kind of geological histories that might be possible, more experiments are required.”

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