Many people are worried about the effect of a near-Earth object on Earth. Still, astronomers have uncovered evidence that a 'giant impact' in outer space stripped away a planet's atmosphere.
A team of astronomers led by MIT has discovered evidence that the HD 172555 planetary system experienced a 200,000-year-old collision between an Earth-sized terrestrial planet and an impactor.
The impact happened at more than 22,000 miles per hour in the planetary system, which is 95 light-years away, and it may have caused some of the planet's atmosphere to blast away, as shown by the carbon monoxide and dust that surround the HD 172555 star.
Carbon Monoxide Near HD 172555 Implies Exoplanet Had a Collision
Experts discovered carbon monoxide orbiting near HD 172555. That's around ten astronomical units or 930 million miles away. The existence of the gas so close to the star implies that it came from a collision. The collision was probably 'massive,' involving two proto-planets of similar size to Earth.
Tajana Schneiderman, the study's main author, said in a statement that they discovered this occurrence of a stripped protoplanetary atmosphere in a massive impact for the first time.
Everyone is interested in seeing a massive effect since experts expect them to happen frequently, Schneiderman explained. However, they don't have proof for them in many systems.
Collision Happened 200,000 Years Ago
Researchers said the carbon monoxide came from a massive collision at least 200,000 years ago. The incident is recent enough for the star not to have had enough time to eradicate the gas.
They believe the collision took place between protoplanets similar in size to Earth, based on the quantity of gas. Space.com also mentioned that the smaller body struck an Earth-sized solid planet at a speed of 22,000 miles per hour.
This collision would have been so powerful that it would have blown away at least a portion of the rocky planet's atmosphere. Experts might attribute the carbon monoxide and silica-rich dust in this way.
Planet's Aftermath: Protoplanetary is the Culprit
The carbon monoxide molecules would have been ripped apart by the star's photons at this distance, researchers said per Tech Radar. Thus the gas couldn't have remained there for long. Given the age of HD 172555, the astronomers believe a massive protoplanetary impact is the most plausible culprit.
Schneiderman and the team demonstrated that finding carbon monoxide at a location and morphology consistent with a significant impact opens up a new way of looking for tremendous results and knowing how debris behaves after that.
Researchers Expecting Giant Impacts of this Age
According to Science Alert, experts anticipate massive impacts to be widespread. The timeframes, the age, and the morphological and compositional restrictions all work out in the end. In this situation, the only feasible process that might create carbon monoxide in this system is a massive collision."
The findings provide us with new methods for determining when big impacts have occurred. Detecting vast levels of carbon monoxide near a star that shouldn't be there might indicate that things got a little messed up while creating a planetary system, researchers said.
Researchers detailed their study, titled "Carbon Monoxide Gas Produced by a Giant Impact in the Inner Region of a Young System," in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
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