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!
Barkers who claim to be able to see your future. There are quite a few. But this time it’squite serious which suggest that we take a leap into the future. To see what will be the future of our . 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 will reach the end of his life. In some 5 billion years.
By effect of– which occurs when a near Earth momentarily aligns with a star further away – they discovered a . Including the 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 thisgiant could be a , from one star to or even a black hole. Then there was only one possibility left. Jupiter’s twin planet must revolve around a . A dead star. Located near the center of .
Jupiter could survive
Remember that when a, like our Sun, burned all the of its nucleus, it passes through a stage called . 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 infar enough from their star, may very well survive after its “death”. “Thus, Jupiter and could escape the . 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 . “If humanity wanted to move to a of Jupiter or Saturn before the Sun engulfs the Earth during its phase of , we would still remain in orbit around the Sun, although we could no longer rely on the of the Sun once it has transformed into a white dwarf. “
Researchers are counting on the futureNancy 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 the is indeed to directly image giant exoplanets. By studying the planets orbiting white dwarfs in the central region of our , the 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.