Sun-like star devouring own planets, puzzled scientists find similarity with Greek God Cronus


Recently researchers have discovered that a star similar to our Sun is gradually devouring its own planetary offspring but they found slight difference this time. Reportedly the star is located about 550 light years away from Earth and it's actually turning several planets of its own solar system into gigantic clouds of dust and gas, reminiscent of epic ancient Greek God Cronus who consumed his own children.

The temperature of the said star named RZ Piscium is estimated to be around 5,330 degrees Celsius, which is slightly lesser than that of the Sun. The findings of this voracious "eater of worlds," situated in the Pisces constellation, were published in The Astronomical Journal.

The study also revealed that the star may not even be that old. "It helps us understand why some young solar systems survive — and some don't," stated Catherine Pilachowski, co-author of the study, from the Indiana University. This breakthrough has the potential of solving several mysteries in the history of many solar systems.

It's not uncommon for planets to migrate inward in young solar systems. "This is a very interesting phase in the evolution of planetary systems, and we're lucky to catch a solar system in the middle of the process since it happens so quickly compared to the lifetimes of stars," said Pilachowski.

The ill-fated planets that rush near their Suns only to die due to heavy tidal forces, are called "disrupted planets." However, the finding is slightly different in case of RZ Piscium and its planetary offspring. Here, the Sun-like monstrous star gradually pulling apart the materials near it and these are then creating a small sphere of debris at a certain distance from the star. This distance is same as that of Sun from planet Mercury in our solar system, informed the study.

"Based on our observations, it seems either that we're seeing a fairly massive, gaseous planet being pulled apart by the star, or perhaps two gas-rich planets that have collided and been torn apart," Pilachowski stated.

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The researchers could also calculate the level of gravitational strength within the vicinity of the star's surface, its brightness and radius – all these data gathered from the study suggest that RZ Piscium is a young star strolling in a distant solar system with a bunch of unstable planets.

This article was first published on December 26, 2017