The probability of detecting a planet is greater if its star contains more of the heavy elements

Patience is required in the search for exoplanets. Thousands of stars must be studied in order to detect just a few planets. Astronomers have patience to spare, but they soon realised that certain stars provide happier hunting grounds than

Iron to make planets. The probability of detecting planets around a solartype star (vertical axis) is very dependent on the amount of heavy elements in the star's atmosphere: here, the quantity of iron compared to that of hydrogen, with reference to the solar value (logarithmic units). The Sun lies at [Fe/H = 0]. Only a very small number of stars with metallicities less than or equal to the Sun's are known to have planets. As metallicity increases, so does the planet count - and steeply. The abrupt decrease in the detection rate below [Fe/H = 0.4] is simply due to there being no iron-rich star in the vicinity of the Sun.

3.6 Cannibal stars? 53

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