A novel crystal structure sheds light on the dynamics of extrasolar planets

Fri, 24 Jun 2022 06:12:01 GMT
Space Daily

Lemont IL (SPX) Jun 24, 2022 For decades, scientists have looked to the strange worlds beyond our...

A team of researchers using the resources of the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory recently discovered more about those planets without leaving Earth.

More than 5,000 extrasolar planets have been discovered since 1992.

These planets are large astronomical bodies that occur outside our solar system and orbit stars other than the sun.

Studying what minerals extrasolar planets are composed of and how they are structured is important for understanding how planets in our galaxy form, behave and evolve.

"Through the discovery of extrasolar planets, we have a whole new vision of what is out there, what type of planets are feasible, and how they may operate," said Thomas Duffy, a geosciences professor at Princeton University.

Some extrasolar planets are composed of the same silicate minerals that make up the bulk of the Earth, but are up to 10 times larger in size, and as a result have much higher pressures and temperatures in their interiors.

"It's not like any crystal structure that you find in the Earth or other planets in our solar system," said Duffy.

Second, the new crystal structure has a disordered ion structure instead of having a distinct order.

The scientists plan on further exploring this new crystal structure to better understand the dynamics of extrasolar planets and learn more about our universe.

Due to launch in 2029, Ariel's mission is to understand the links between a planet's chemistry, its evolution and its host star, by characterising the atmospheres of 1,000 known planets outside our solar system.