Distant planet’s interior chemistry may not be Earth-like

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Published: September 2, 2015 2:49:34 PM

As per new study, interior chemistry of a distant planet may differ from our own.

As per a new study, interior chemistry of a distant planet may differ from our own.

New work from a team, including three Carnegie scientists, demonstrates that different magnesium compounds could be abundant inside other planets as compared to Earth.

Oxygen and magnesium are the two most-abundant elements in Earth’s mantle. However, when scientists are predicting the chemical compositions of rocky, terrestrial planets outside of our own Solar System, they shouldn’t assume that other rocky planets would have Earth-like mantle mineralogy, according to the research.

Stars that have rocky planets are known to vary in chemical composition. This means that the mineralogies of these rocky planets are probably different from each other and from our own Earth, as well.

For example, elevated oxygen contents have been observed in stars that host rocky planets. As such, oxygen may be more abundant in the interiors of other rocky planets, because the chemical makeup of a star would affect the chemical makeups of the planets that formed around it.

If a planet is more oxidized than Earth, then this could affect the composition of the compounds found in its interior, too, including the magnesium compounds that are the subject of this study.

Lead author Sergey Lobanov said that the findings suggest that magnesium peroxide may be abundant in extremely oxidized mantles and cores of rocky planets outside our Solar System, adding that when they develop theories about distant planets, it’s important that they don’t assume their chemistry and mineralogy is Earth-like.

The study is published by Scientific Reports.

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