The sun was formed 4.6 billion years ago and is still in its middle age, but when the hydrogen in its core runs out, it will start to swell and become a red giant, up to 100 times its current diameter, and that’s enough Mercury, Venus and Earth were probably swallowed up.
When the end comes, humanity will not be there to see it – either it will already be extinct or it will evolve into an interplanetary species. However, a team of astronomers has noticed an ancient star, located 12 thousand light years away, which allows us to predict what will happen in the solar system in 5 billion years.
Researchers managed to discover the red giant, which was once A sun-like star devouring a Jupiter-sized planet. Monitoring data is documented in Stady Published this Wednesday in the journal “Nature”.
This is an unprecedented feat, as the ZTF SLRN-2020 is The first red giant to be caught in the act by scientists while sucking in a planet It is very close, with an orbit closer than that of Mercury. This star is at the beginning of the final phase of its life, during which the final expansion of a red giant could last for more than 100,000 years.
“This type of event has been predicted for decades, but until now we haven’t observed directly how this process evolves.”confirms Kechalay D, an astronomer and lead author of the study, which NASA cited in a statement.
As the red giant expands, the planet’s atmosphere begins to be drawn in by the strong gravity, causing this world to lose more and more mass and, consequently, slow and shorten its orbit even more, until it is finally swallowed up by the star. .
As the planet devoured it, the energy transfer caused the star to temporarily increase in size and become hundreds of times brighter. Then it returned to the diameter and brightness it was before it merged with the planet.
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