Science and Technology Daily (Reporter Liu Xia) Astronomers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) wrote in the latest issue of Science that they have developed a new method for detailed analysis of the geochemical characteristics of extrasolar planets. With this method, the elements in the rocky planet fragments that run around six white dwarfs are analyzed and found to be similar to the Earth's rocks. These new evidence suggests that the Earth may not be so unique, and terrestrial planets may be common in the universe.
The white dwarf star studied by the UCLA team is between 200 and 665 light years from Earth. White dwarfs are dense burning wrecks of ordinary stars. Alexandra Doyle, UCLA's head of geochemistry and astrochemistry, said: "By observing these white dwarfs and their elements in the atmosphere, we observed the elements in the celestial bodies that run around the white dwarfs. Because the white dwarfs are huge. Gravity will tear the planets around it into pieces, which will fall onto the white dwarf."
The data analyzed by the Doyle team was collected primarily by telescopes at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. They used mathematical methods and formulas to study the six most common elements in rocks that run around white dwarfs: iron, oxygen, silicon, magnesium, calcium, and aluminum. Doyle said: "We can mathematically determine the geochemical properties of these rocks and compare the results with the rocks of the Earth and Mars."
The researchers explained that understanding rocks is crucial. Oxidation on rocky planets is important for its atmosphere, its core, and the types of rocks that form on its surface. All chemical reactions taking place on the surface of the earth can be traced back to the oxidation state of the planet. The fact that we have all the ingredients necessary for the ocean and life can be traced back to the oxidation of the planet, which controls this oxidation.
Edward Young, a professor of geochemistry and cosmology at UCLA, explains that when iron is oxidized, it shares electrons with oxygen, producing iron oxides, and the chemical composition of rocks from the Earth, Mars, and other parts of the solar system is similar, and the concentration of iron oxide is high. Why the rocks in the solar system are so oxidized remains an unsolved mystery.
So is the same around other stars? They measured the amount of oxidized iron in the rock that orbited the white dwarf and came up with a positive answer. The researchers say that this is a good sign for finding terrestrial planets in the universe.
They said that if the oxidation of the rocks outside the system is similar to that of the Earth, then it can be concluded that the planet has similar plate tectonics and magnetic field potential to the Earth, and these are widely considered to be key elements of life, so it is likely There are exoplanets that are truly earth-like.