An international team of astronomers discovered the first view of the aftermath of a giant exoplanet collision around a sun-like star in a distant planetary system. The team of scientists reported the discovery on October 11 and they noted that such collisions among planets are common when compared to our own solar system’s history.
Hence, the discoveries made by these researchers unveil how planets in distant star systems evolve via violent astronomical events. Scientists first discovered the afterglow of the collision between two super Earth-sized planets in December 2021. During that discovery, the team noticed that the planetary system’s parent star named 2MASS J08152329-3859234 dimmed all of a sudden.
However, the crew did not stop there. They conducted follow-up observations in visible light wavelengths to realize that the dimming was caused by some type of eclipse that lasted for about 500 days. The eclipse started around 2.5 years after infrared observations noticed a brightening event happened. This suggests that any celestial body eclipsing the star and causing the dim had an orbital period of about 2.5 years.
“I knew then this was an unusual event,” Matthew Kenworthy, an associate professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands and lead author of the new work, said in an official release.
What Happened After The Giant Exoplanet Collision
The team analyzed the temperature and size of the eclipsing material based on generated computer model data and finalized that the debris must have come into existence after two giant planets collided. The scientists also stated that three years after the giant exoplanet collision, the remnant material may have lined up in front of the star from our view.
Hence, this debris must have reduced the brightness in visible wavelengths and may have caused the mysterious eclipse. Further analysis revealed that the star is about 300 million years old, making it quite younger than our own star which is roughly 4.6 billion years old. Numerous massive impacts are common astronomical events that occur among all planets and moons during their infant age.
Previous studies revealed that such collisions stopped occurring in our star system about 3.9 billion years ago, which made it possible for our star system to remain this peaceful. However, discoveries from a recent study suggest that the possibility of mature planets colliding with each other also exists.
Scientists will likely conduct future observations with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to study how dust clouds created from the exoplanet collision diffuse over the next few years.
“Ultimately, the mass of material around the remnant may condense to form a retinue of moons that will orbit around this new planet,” Zoe Leinhardt, an associate professor of astrophysics at the University of Bristol and co-author of the new study, said in the same statement.
The team published their findings on October 11 in the journal Nature.
A team of scientists recently discovered the first view of the aftermath of two massive planets colliding around a sun-like star in a distant planetary system. This discovery will enable scientists to understand how planets in the solar system were formed. What do you think about this scientific discovery?