Thursday, December 9

These planets have collided with such violence that one has ripped the atmosphere from another

When a star is born, a gigantic disk of gases and matter orbits around it, which ends up converging due to the effect of electrostatics and gravity on the planets that end up forming the complete star system. It is in that age of birth that planetary collisions are more likelyas they can still change their orbit as they form.

A new observation HD 172555, a young star that still has its disk of matter and gases around it, has revealed something more about these collisions: they can determine the way in which planets form, even if they will include their atmosphere or not.

It turns out that in the disk of HD 172555 there is an unusually large amount of carbon monoxide at a distance of up to 10 AU, a gas that tends to decompose due to radiation from the star being so far away. The conclusion that the experts have reached is that this carbon monoxide was part of the atmosphere of a planet, but another smaller planet collided with it with such force that said atmosphere was detached.

For that to have happened the smallest planet must have collided at a speed of 36,000 km / h, and not more than 200,000 years ago. It is, apparently, the only possible explanation of all the scenarios that have been raised in the study of that star.

Determining this makes us have learned very important things. First of all, now we can know with some precision if there have been violent collisions in a solar system in full formation analyzing the gases of the disk that surrounds the star.

In second place, we can consider ourselves lucky. It’s very probable that our moon has formed due to an impact of a planet the size of Mars against the Earth, and if that impact had been more violent right now our planet would not have had the same atmosphere as it does now. And that could have prevented the formation of life in our little corner of the universe.

Image | NASA Imagery