Fine Structure

New Methods for Hunting Earth-like Planets

There was a lot of news about hunting for Earth-like planets around the time that Kepler launched and quite a bit of talk about the method Kepler was using - that is, looking at lots of stars for long periods of time and seeing if they wobble in their position. We're no longer a one-trick pony for planet hunting methods anymore. Astronomers taking a closer look at the chemical composition of systems that have planets have found a curious detail: less lithium.

One of the more fascinating points of the article describing this new discovery is that scientists often think of star formation independent of planet formation. Fortunately, that's not the case when it comes to physical reality. Star and planet formation is heavily influenced by their own system formation as a whole and therefore telltale signs of systems that have formed with planets can be detected as particular properties of stars, such as lower amounts of lithium. ]