The most direct and substantial way to measure the geochemistry of extrasolar objects is to perform chemical autopsies on their broken-up remains. However, traditional ways of probing extrasolar planetary systems around Sun-like stars cannot achieve this goal, instead yielding just a planet’s bulk density or chemical details of its atmosphere. Fortunately, new techniques have emerged which allow us to perform the desired geochemical postmortems. These techniques work only on old planetary systems: specifically, systems which are old enough so that their parent stars have already exhausted their fuel and have evolved into burnt cores known as white dwarfs.

Hence,...

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