Astronomers have seen the end of the Solar System!

    Somewhere towards the center of the Milky Way, there is a dead star, a white dwarf, around which a giant planet orbits. To astronomers, the system looks a lot like what our Solar System will become after our Sun has burned off all of its fuel. Exciting!

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    [EN VIDÉO] The life and death of a star and its planets
    This video with animations traces the main stages of the birth and life of a star similar to the Sun, surrounded by a planetary procession until its death, taking up the case of the Solar System. We can distinguish seven stages already covered or which remain to be covered in his case, as shown by the synthetic images with comments in English.

    Barkers who claim to be able to see your future. There are quite a few. But this time it’s astronomers quite serious which suggest that we take a leap into the future. To see what will be the future of our Solar system. Rest assured, they don’t claim to have developed a time machine. They have simply tracked down a planetary system that looks exactly like the expected fate of our Solar System. To what it will be when our Sun will reach the end of his life. In some 5 billion years.

    By effect of gravitational microlens – which occurs when a star near Earth momentarily aligns with a star further away – they discovered a giant planet. Including the mass is about 40% higher than that of our Jupiter. And when they left in search of its host star, surprise! It wasn’t shining enough to be a star in what astronomers call the main sequence.

    In this animation, an artist’s impression of a star in the main sequence at the end of its life, transforming into a red giant then collapsing into a white dwarf. A gas giant similar to Jupiter orbits at a distance, surviving the explosive transformation. © Adam Makarenko, WM Keck Observatory

    The data quickly enabled them to rule out that the host from this exoplanet giant could be a brown dwarf, from one star to neutron or even a black hole. Then there was only one possibility left. Jupiter’s twin planet must revolve around a white dwarf. A dead star. Located near the center of Milky Way.

    Jupiter could survive

    Remember that when a main sequence star, like our Sun, burned all thehydrogen of its nucleus, it passes through a stage called red giant. Then she collapses on herself. She shrinks until she becomes a white dwarf. A dense and warm star remnant. The size of Earth, but twice as massive as our Star! A remainder difficult to observe for the astronomers, because very weakly luminous.

    The researchers’ discovery constitutes proof that planets in orbit far enough from their star, may very well survive after its “death”. “Thus, Jupiter and Saturn could escape the end of life of our Sun. The future of Earth is more uncertain. Our Planet is much closer to the Sun ”, remarks David Bennett, researcher at the University of Maryland (United States), in a communicated. “If humanity wanted to move to a moon of Jupiter or Saturn before the Sun engulfs the Earth during its phase of red supergiant, we would still remain in orbit around the Sun, although we could no longer rely on the heat of the Sun once it has transformed into a white dwarf. “

    Researchers are counting on the future space telescope Nancy Grace Roman which should be launched in 2025 to get more information on this kind of planetary systems. The main objective of this instrument which will work in theinfrared is indeed to directly image giant exoplanets. By studying the planets orbiting white dwarfs in the central region of our Galaxy, the telescope should allow astronomers if it is common for Jupiter-like planets to escape their star’s last days, or if a significant fraction of them are destroyed by the time their host stars become red giants.

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