Astronomers have found a planetary system that is very similar to what will happen to our solar system in the future when the sun begins to fade.
The authors of the new work, with the help of the W.M. Keck Observatory, found a system that consists of a planet similar to Jupiter orbiting a white dwarf that resembles the Sun.
In a new article, the researchers talk about the discovery of the first known exoplanet that survived the death of its star without changing its orbit. The new exoplanet is similar to Jupiter in both mass and orbital separation.
This confirms that planets that orbit at a sufficiently large distance from the star can continue to exist for its death. Given that this system is analogous to our own solar system, then Jupiter and Saturn will most likely survive the period when the Sun becomes a red giant.
Joshua Blackman, PhD student in astronomy at the University of Tasmania in Australia
Sooner or later, our Sun will turn into a white dwarf – this is what stars become after they die. In the last stages of its life cycle, the star burns off all the hydrogen in its core and turns into a red giant star. A similar process increases the brightness of the star and leads to a colossal expansion of its envelope. Not all nearby planets are going through this process.
When the Sun eventually becomes a red giant, its heat will reach Earth’s current orbit. This means that the Sun is likely to engulf Mercury, Venus, and Earth.
Several million more years will pass. The red giant will begin to cool down. And eventually it will become a white dwarf.
The authors of the new work found just such a system, where the star became a white dwarf, and the nearest surviving exoplanet resembles Jupiter. Now astronomers have confirmed their information about which planets are most likely to survive the death of the Sun.