Burning lithium inside a star, artwork

Burning lithium inside a star, artwork

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Credit: EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Restrictions: This image may not be used by or to promote the arms, nuclear power or tobacco industries or any religious organisation, or in any discriminatory way, or to imply the endorsement by ESO of any product, service or activity

Caption: Burning lithium inside a star. Computer artwork of a baby star still surrounded by a protoplanetary disc in which planets are forming. Using ESO's (European Southern Observatory) HARPS spectrograph, Sun-like stars which host planets have been found to destroy their lithium much more efficiently than planet-free stars. This helps explain the low levels of lithium in the Sun and provides an efficient way to pick out the stars most likely to host planets. It is not clear what causes the lithium to be destroyed. It is thought that the planets or the presence of the protoplanetary disc disturb the interior of the star, bringing the lithium deeper down into the star than usual, to regions where the temperature is so hot that it is destroyed.

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Keywords: 1, artist's impression, artists impression, artwork, astronomical, astronomy, astrophysical, astrophysics, baby star, burning, destroyed, destroying, eso, european southern observatory, harps, illustration, lithium, one, planet host, planetary science, planets, protoplanetary disc, single, star, young

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