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article imageA Mighty Burp

By KJ Mullins     Feb 9, 2008 in Science
BP Piscium appears to have swallowed its stellar companion and could be starting a new planet system. The middle aged star is about 1000 light years away from the Earth. Scientists are watching the development closely.
After BP Piscium ingested its stellar buddy it burped out a planet forming cloud. The star is now surrounded by a thick disc of gas and dust. The matter seems to be sucking up new material at a healthy rate.
Young stars do this a lot but BP Piscium is an older star. Scientists know this because of the weak signs of lithium in its light spectrum. As stars age they lose lithium.
The star is a giant because it has already exhausted the hydrogen fuel at its core. When that fuel goes the star begins to swell up. As the star started to grow it is believed that it became a red giant engulfing a smaller star that was a companion. Based on calculations the dusty disc contains the mass of about 50 Earths.
It's possible that the disc will turn into planets. The star is being observed with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray observatory.
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