Scientists were able to observe, for the first time, a star swallowing a Jupiter-like planet and then expelling energy into space. This could be a glimpse of Earth’s destiny.
K. Miller/R. Hurt Caltech/IPAC/Handout via REUTERS
When a star starts the red giant phase it can increase up to a hundred times its original diameter, absorbing any planet in its orbit, until now it had never been possible to see a star swallowing a planet.
The study related to this discovery has now been published in the journal Nature. Kishalay De, lead author of the study considers that in about five billion years, when the Sun will pass through its red giant phase, it is very likely that Mercury, Venus and Earth, the three planets closest to the Sun , have the same fate.
Still, it is worth mentioning that this planet, a gas giant, was closer to the star than any other in our solar system, as it completed its orbit in less than a day, while Mercury needs about 88 days. to complete a trip around the Sun.
Morgan MacLeod, astrophysicist and another of the authors of the study, says that “the planet began to slide through the atmosphere of the star like a satellite falling into the Earth’s atmosphere. The deeper the planet fell, the denser the environment and the faster it was dragged to the center”.Another of the interesting revelations was that the “so sudden” way in which the star swallowed the planet allowed scientists to see “its energetic belch”. This belch is some material that was expelled into space as “the intense heat eventually destroys the planet and its material is mixed with the entire star”.
It was not possible to identify more planets orbiting this star, but researchers still do not rule out the possibility that they exist.
Scientists spotted the star, which quickly became a hundred times brighter, at the Zwicky Transient Facility at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in California.
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