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27 Nov, 2022
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New Study Reveals Oldest Planet In The Universe

According to a brand-new study, a faint white dwarf star has been discovered that is at least ten billion years old. The oldest planetary debris has been found orbiting planetesimals which makes it the oldest star that is now dead in an evolved planetary system. This study provides deep insight into the evolution and formation of icy moons, Earth-like rocky planets and asteroids in the universe’s early history. 

The oldest star in the galaxy has been identified by astronomers that are now accreting debris from the orbiting planetesimals. This makes it the oldest icy and rocky planetary system to have been found in the Milky Way. The findings of the astronomers point out a faint white dwarf that is present 90 light-years away from Earth. In addition to that, its debris is over ten billion years old. This study was led by the University of Warwick and was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on November 5th. 

What is a White Dwarf Star? 

It is noteworthy that most stars like the Sun will ultimately transform into a white dwarf, which is essentially a star that has exhausted all its fuel and has lost all its outer layers. This is a star that is undergoing a cooling and contracting process. In essence, any planet in orbit is bound to be disrupted and even destroyed during this process in some circumstances. This means that their debris is left behind that starts accreting on the white dwarf’s surface. 

Also read: Gammy Ray Burst, An Event That Trembled The Entire Universe

The GAIA space observatory that is a part of the European Space Agency detected the two unusual white dwarfs. They found planetary debris on both stars. They are analysing it further to find out more details. They used photometric and Spectroscopic data that was made available by GAIA, the X-shooter instruments, and the Dark Energy Survey at the European Southern Observatory. This data helped them to calculate the time since when they have been undergoing the cooling process. 

According to their analysis, the ‘red’ star has spent almost 10.2 billion years cooling down as a white dwarf and is 10.7 billion years old. While the other ‘blue’ star is considered slightly younger and its debris has a composition similar to that of the Earth’s continental crust. 

It is a breakthrough in planetary research because it shows that Earth is not the only planet out there but there are also other planetary systems that are similar to our Earth. It is already known that 97% of the stars that exist will convert into a white dwarf and there are so many in the universe that it is crucial to understand them. This oldest planet in the universe is very important for research because they can help us understand the evolution of the entire planetary system and of the modest stars that still exist in the Milky Way. Also, the universe was not as metal-rich as it is today when these old stars were formed, which happened around 10 billion years ago. So, it is exciting to see how the evolution of stars and formation of planetary systems happened in such conditions that were so different from the conditions when the solar system came into existence.

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