Planet Orbiting Dead Star Shows Our Solar System’s Future

Published on October 14, 2021

Scientists have spotted a ‘hot Jupiter’ orbiting a dead star that used to resemble our Sun. According to the paper, which was published in the scientific journal ‘Nature,’ the system is around 6,500 light years away. The hellish scene taking place in this far-off star-system is a haunting reminder of our own solar system’s inevitable fate.

Also: Four Exoplanets Including Super-Earth Discovered by High School Students

In about 5 billion years, our sun will exhaust its helium supply. When that time comes, it will expand into a red giant. When the sun grows during this phase, it will encompass the orbits of Mercury, Venus. Earth, and maybe even Mars. After that it will contract into a white dwarf. So, it’s clear what happens to the inner planets, but what exactly happens to the out planets during this phase? No one really knows.

The planet is about 40% larger than Jupiter and is orbiting a dim white dwarf star that is about 40 percent smaller than the Sun. The discovery was made with the Keck II telescope at the W. M. Keck observatory in Hawaii. It was discovered using the gravitational microlensing technique which is only possible when the target system and other stars line up with Earth just right. The other star bends the light from the target, which lets it be observed with a telescope.

This planet’s host star has actually not been directly observed. It was concluded that the star is more than likely a faint white dwarf that is simply too dim to directly observe.

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