Astronomers have discovered a planet that survived a star explosion in its home
And it makes us wonder what to expect when our own sun dies.
Your sun has a time limit. It will reach the end of its life of about 5 billion years from now. What will your solar system look like when the sun dies? Astronomers have discovered a distant solar system that signals the future of our planet. Earth will most likely be whisked away, but Jupiter could survive.
A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature details Jupiter-like planets in a Jupiter-like orbit around a dead, white dwarf star. The system is near the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and its discovery by the WM Cake Observatory in Hawaii shows that some of the planets in our star may still exist, even if our star passes through its inevitable end-of-life.
Joshua Blackman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tasmania in Australia, lead author, said, “This evidence confirms that large enough orbiting planets may exist.” “Given that this system is compatible with our own solar system, this suggests that Jupiter and Saturn can survive in the Sun’s red giant state, when they run out of nuclear fuel and self-destruct.”
When our sun dies it is expected to go through certain stages. It will expand into a red monster, a phase NASA describes as “usually the most violent time in a star’s life.” This is when the earth takes a beating and becomes desolate and perhaps destroyed.
Next, the sun will stabilize in its white dwarf form as a dead star that is getting colder and fading. This is the same star that astronomers have seen orbiting a planet like Jupiter. The Cake Observatory shared a video animation of what it must have felt for that distant solar system and its surviving planet.
University of Maryland co-authors David Bennett and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have suggested going to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. It assumes that humanity still exists. This means that in our long-term ambitions for interplanetary life, we should take a look at some of Jupiter’s glamorous moons like Europa, the target of upcoming NASA missions.
Living next to Jupiter will not solve all our problems. As Bennett noted, “… we will not be able to rely on heat from the sun for long as white dwarfs.”
Some previous research, including the 2020 paper, which describes a giant planet that has avoided destruction by its own star, shows that there is a possibility of survival despite the tendency of these stars to come out of glory. Scientists are still working on how common or rare this can be.
The death of our sun is not a serious problem for humanity, but thinking ahead is not a bad idea. A highly optimistic, sci-fi-inspired vision might see future human civilization live beyond Jupiter, not just Earth and Mars, but enter another solar system before our planet is toasted.