Business Standard

Astronomers discover Sun-like star 'Kronos' that was devourer of planets

The research did not begin as a hunt for a planet-eater

IANS  |  New York 

Sun rising over Mercury  Shutterstock
Sun rising over Mercury | Photo: Shutterstock

have discovered that a Sun-like star lurking around 350 light-years away consumed the rocky equivalent of 15 Earths.

Dubbed after the child-eating Titan of Greek mythology, the star is the clearest and most dramatic case yet of a Sun-like star consuming its own planets, said Semyeong Oh, astrophysicist at Princeton University in New Jersey and lead author of the study.

"Even if our Sun ate the entire inner solar system, it wouldn't come close to the anomaly we see in this star," study co-author David Hogg from the Flatiron Institute in New York added.

The research did not begin as a hunt for a planet-eater.

Oh was analysing a catalogue of new star data collected by the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft for pairs of stars with similar speeds and trajectories.

Such duos are typically twin stars that formed close together from the same ingredients.

The analysis ultimately led to the identification of and its lesser-known brother Krios.

Their official designations are HD 240430 and HD 240429, and they are both about 350 light years from

The keys to the discovery were first confirming that the widely separated pair is in fact a binary pair, and secondly observing Kronos' strikingly unusual chemical abundance pattern, Oh explained in a statement released by the Princeton University.

Other co-moving star pairs have had different chemistries, Oh explained, but none as dramatic as and Krios.

Most stars that are as metal-rich as "have all the other elements enhanced at a similar level," she said, "whereas has volatile elements suppressed, which makes it really weird in the general context of stellar abundance patterns."

In other words, had an unusually high level of rock-forming minerals, including magnesium, aluminium, silicon, iron, chromium and yttrium, without an equally high level of volatile compounds -- those that are most often found in gas form, like oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and potassium, the study said.

First Published: Fri, October 13 2017. 16:17 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU