The chemical composition of τ Ceti and possible effects on terrestrial planets

Michael Pagano, Amanda Truitt, Patrick Young, Sang-Heon Shim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


τ Ceti (HD10700), a G8 dwarf with mass 0.78 M , is a close (3.65 pc) Sun-like star where five possibly terrestrial planet candidates (minimum masses of 2, 3.1, 3.5, 4.3, and 6.7 M ) have recently been discovered. We report abundances of 23 elements using spectra from the MIKE spectrograph on Magellan. We find [Fe/H] = -0.49 and K. Using stellar models with the abundances determined here, we calculate the position of the classical habitable zone (HZ) with time. At the current best fit age, Gy, up to two planets (e and f) may be in the HZ, depending on atmospheric properties. The Mg/Si ratio of the star is found to be 1.78, which is much greater than for Earth (∼1.2). With a system that has such an excess of Mg/Si ratio it is possible that the mineralogical make-up of planets around τ Ceti could be significantly different from that of Earth, with possible oversaturation of MgO, resulting in an increase in the content of olivine and ferropericlase compared with Earth. The increase in MgO would have a drastic impact on the rheology of the mantles of the planets around τ Ceti.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2015


  • astrobiology
  • planets and satellites: composition
  • planets and satellites: interiors
  • stars: abundances
  • stars: individual(τ Ceti.)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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