Evidence for Water in the Rocky Debris of a Disrupted Extrasolar Minor Planet

By Keith Cowing
October 14, 2013
Filed under
Evidence for Water in the Rocky Debris of a Disrupted Extrasolar Minor Planet

The existence of water in extrasolar planetary systems is of great interest as it constrains the potential for habitable planets and life. Here, we report the identification of a circumstellar disk that resulted from the destruction of a water-rich and rocky, extrasolar minor planet.

The parent body formed and evolved around a star somewhat more massive than the Sun, and the debris now closely orbits the white dwarf remnant of the star. The stellar atmosphere is polluted with metals accreted from the disk, including oxygen in excess of that expected for oxide minerals, indicating the parent body was originally composed of 26% water by mass. This finding demonstrates that water-bearing planetesimals exist around A- and F-type stars that end their lives as white dwarfs.

J. Farihi, B.T. Gaensicke, D. Koester (Submitted on 11 Oct 2013)

Comments: version accepted to Science, including Supplementary Online Material

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR) DOI: 10.1126/science.1239447

Cite as: arXiv:1310.3269 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1310.3269v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Jay Farihi [v1] Fri, 11 Oct 2013 20:00:00 GMT (46kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻