The Sun Will Destroy Earth In Five Billion Years.

Jun, 2023 - by CMI

Astronomers witness star eat its own planet. Earth may share same fate.

First-time scientists saw a sun-like star eat a planet. This may suggest Earth will be destroyed in 500 million years. MIT, Harvard, Caltech, and other astronomers detected a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a 1,000-times-larger dying star on May 10, 2020. Nature reported their results.

Meals diminished the shine. The planet died 12,000 light-years from Aquila. MIT postdoctoral student Kishalay De says, "We were seeing the end-stage of the swallowing."

It's a grim reminder of what scientists think might happen to Earth if our Sun runs out of fuel, swells, and devours the inner solar system's planets. Humans are excluded, luckily. De said, "We are witnessing the future of Earth." A civilization 10,000 light years distant Earth would see a dramatic brightening as the sun enveloped the Earth, dust around it, and the solar system returning to its prior state.

Workers found it. De studied binary star explosions at Caltech's Palomar Observatory's Zwicky Transient Facility. De saw a star that had brightened 100-fold in a week one night. "I had never seen a stellar outburst like it," the author said.  De discovered compounds that could only be synthesized at extremely low temperatures, indicating the source was not binary. Low temps and rising stars worry De. Next year, Palomar Observatory's infrared camera confirmed the source's cold material outflow.

Scientists found the chilly outburst's origins after repeated NEOWISE scans. Since its brightness increase, the star has produced only one thousandth of the energy through stellar mergers. De says "whatever merged with the star has to be 1,000 times smaller than any other star we've seen." Planets collided with stars. Astronomers decided that the initial outburst's brilliant, burning light drew the planet into the dying star's expanding atmosphere. As it entered the star's core, the planet became cold dust. Astronomers can only examine planets that orbit or are consumed by their stars. He said we didn't "catch the star in the act," or watch a planet die in real time.