University of Warwick, UK | 2020 Feb 10
Radiation from dying stars is luminous enough to easily spin up orbiting asteroids to break-up speed; New study led by University of Warwick astronomer computes the cascade of destruction down to boulder-size fragments; Break-ups form a vast asteroid debris field much like the classic arcade game, including fragments which revolve around each other as “double asteroids”; Scientists predict that the solar system’s asteroid belt will be pulverised by the Sun’s light in 6 billion years.
The majority of stars in the universe will become luminous enough to blast surrounding asteroids into successively smaller fragments using their light alone, according to a University of Warwick astronomer.
Electromagnetic radiation from stars at the end of their ‘giant branch’ phase – lasting just a few million years before they collapse into white dwarfs – would be strong enough to spin even distant asteroids at high speed until they tear themselves apart again and again. As a result, even our own asteroid belt will be easily pulverized by our Sun billions of years from now.
The new study ... analyses the number of successive break-up events and how quickly this cascade occurs.
The authors have concluded that all but the most distant or smallest asteroids in a system would be disintegrated in a relatively short one million years, leaving behind debris that scientists can find and analyse around dead white dwarf stars. Some of this debris may be in the form of ‘double asteroids’ which revolve around each other while they orbit the Sun. ...
Post-Main-Sequence Debris from Rotation-Induced YORP Break-up of Small Bodies --
II. Multiple Fissions, Internal Strengths, and Binary Production ~ Dimitri Veras, Daniel J. Scheeres