A recent study has suggested that nearby red dwarf stars can offer insights into how planets form.
Astronomers from The Australian National University (ANU) and UNSW Canberra found large discs of dust around two of the stars, tell-tale signs of planets in the process of forming.
Researchers think the Earth and all the other planets formed from discs like these so it is fascinating to see a potential new solar system evolving, said the lead researcher Simon Murphy, adding that other stars of this age usually don’t have discs any more.
The red dwarf discs seem to live longer than those of hotter stars like the Sun. researchers don’t understand why, added Murphy.
The discovery of objects, like these two, challenges current theories about planet formation, suggesting that the planet forming process can endure a lot longer than previously thought, said co-author Warrick Lawson.
The giveaway that the red dwarves had discs around them was an unusual glow in the infrared spectrum of the stars.
Although the discs were not observed directly, Murphy said such close red dwarves offered a good chance of catching a rare direct glimpse of a disc, or even a planet, by employing specialised telescopes.
The research is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Journal.