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The Astrophysical Journal


Department of Physics and Astronomy


We study spectroscopically determined iron abundances of 640 solar-type stars to search for the signature of accreted iron-rich material. We find that the metallicity [Fe/H] of a subset of 466 main-sequence stars, when plotted as a function of stellar mass, mimics the pattern seen in lithium abundances in open clusters. Using Monte Carlo models, we find that, on average, these stars appear to have accreted ~0.5 M⊕ of iron while on the main-sequence. A consistency check is provided by a much smaller sample of 19 stars in the Hertzsprung gap, which are slightly evolved and the convection zones of which are significantly more massive; they have lower average [Fe/H], and their metallicity shows no clear variation with stellar mass. We argue that our Sun is likely to have accreted a similar amount of iron; in this respect, most systems resemble ours rather than the currently known extrasolar planetary systems. These findings suggest that terrestrial-type material is common around solar-type stars.