A team of researchers from Princeton University was studying some faraway stars when they noticed something notable with one pair of siblings. The star Kronos has a binary partner, Krios, but, interestingly enough, they display some significant differences in their chemical composition. After a closer analysis, they finally found out why. Kronos engorged 15 Earths worth of rocky material.
Kronos and Krios Are an Atypical Pair of Stars
Kronos and Krios are two binary stars placed about 350 light-years away from Earth, and two light-years away from each other. They are both about 4 million years old, and are similar to the Sun in our Solar System. However, from other points of view, the two stars are incredibly different.
Binary stars are not always alike, and they often feature different chemical compositions. However, this time, the differences are much too big. Kronos is an anomaly not only for differing so much from its sibling, but for being unlike any other star. The star is full of minerals typical for the forming of rocks, but these are not paired up with volatile compounds, as it usually happens.
Kronos Devoured Many Earth-like Planets
Kronos and Krios formed, indeed, a binary system, as their orbits matched, and the two of them moving in the exact opposite patterns. Any other explanations were quickly ruled out, and they were left with one hypothesis. The analysis of the minerals present in the star revealed Kronos had devoured a few planets the size of Earth.
All components usually present in a rocky planet are also present on the star. Also, the volatiles in the atmosphere of such a planet weren’t there, suggesting that they were swallowed whole by the beastly star. Further calculations approximated the number of planets eaten by the voracious star, and the result was 15.
It was this monster appetite which convinced the researchers to name the star Kronos. All the other details of the study have been collected in a paper in the Astrophysics journal.