Possible Preview of the Ultimate Fate of Earth
NOIRLab Science Release | Gemini South | 2023 May 03
Gemini South captures first direct evidence of an exoplanet being swallowed by an ancient Sun-like star
By studying countless stars at various stages of their evolution, astronomers have been able to piece together an understanding of the life cycle of stars and how they interact with their surrounding planetary systems as they age. This research confirms that when a Sun-like star nears the end of its life, it expands anywhere from 100 to 1000 times its original size, eventually engulfing the system’s inner planets. Such events are estimated to occur only a few times each year across the entire Milky Way. Though past observations have confirmed the aftermath of planetary engulfments, astronomers have never caught one in the act, until now.
With the power of the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI) on Gemini South, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, astronomers have observed the first direct evidence of a dying star expanding to engulf one of its planets. Evidence for this event was found in a telltale “long and low-energy” outburst from a star in the Milky Way about 13,000 light-years from Earth. This event, the devouring of a planet by an engorged star, likely presages the ultimate fate of Mercury, Venus, and Earth when our Sun begins its death throes in about five billion years. ...
Star Eats Planet, Brightens Dramatically
W.M. Keck Observatory | California Institute of Technology | 2023 May 03
Caught in the Act: Astronomers Detect a Star Devouring a Planet
NASA | JPL-Caltech | The NEOWISE Project | 2023 May 03
An infrared transient from a star engulfing a planet ~ Kishalay De et al
- Nature 617(7959):55 (04 May 2023) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-05842-x