An investigation of the University KU Leuven affirms that, although they are about to die, some types of stars can form planets.
According to the researchers, if this is confirmed, theories about planetary formation will have to be adjusted.
According to those in charge of the study, in the case of binary stars, the gravitational attraction of the second causes the matter ejected by the dying star to form a flat disk.
This disk resembles protoplanets that astronomers have observed near young stars in other parts of the Milky Way.
The team of astronomers found that such disks surrounding so-called evolved binary stars show signs that could point to planet formation.
According to their observations, this is the case for one in ten of these binary stars.
“In ten percent of the binary stars with disks that we studied, we see a large cavity (a void/opening) in the disk,” explains Jacques Kluska, lead author of the study.
“This is an indication that something is floating around out there that has accumulated all the matter in the cavity area.”
The cleaning of the matter could be the work of a planet, which could not have formed at the beginning of the life of one of these binary stars, but at its end.
“In binary stars evolved with a large cavity in the disk, we saw that heavy elements such as iron were very scarce on the surface of the dying star,” adds Kluska.
“This observation suggests that dust particles rich in these elements were trapped by a planet.”
In this way, the possibility that several planets can form around these binary stars is not ruled out.
Astronomers now want to verify this hypothesis. For this they will use the large telescopes of the European Southern Observatory, which is located in Chile.