Scientists Observe Star Swallowing A Planet For The First Time
The discovery is significant since it shows what will happen to our Earth when the Sun morphs into a red giant and gobbles the four inner planet.
For the first time, scientists have observed the moment a dying star consumed the planet. The devourer star was the size of the Sun and the planet that was consumed was a gas giant the size of Jupiter. According to CNN, the planetary demise was observed by a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology. They said the event holds significance since it is a gloomy preview of what will happen to our Earth when the Sun morphs into a red giant and gobbles the four inner planet.
While astronomers have previously observed other stars before and after such an event, this is the first time the swallow itself was observed, according to the study published in Nature.
“The fact that the solar system planets would get engulfed into the Sun in the future was something I had read first in high school, so it was surreal to realize that we may have found the first ever example of catching a similar event in real time” study lead author Kishalay De, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, told CNN.
According to the researchers, the process sees the bigger star puffing up with old age and growing to a million times its original size as it runs out of fuel, engulfing all the planets around it.
Astronomers said it appeared as a white-hot flash, followed by a longer-lasting colder signal, which they said was caused by star engulfing the planet.
The event took place around 12,000 light-years away in the Aquila constellation and Mr De observed it in 2020. It took the team a year to understand what the white-hot flash meant.
“One of the key pieces of evidence we were trying to understand is that the outburst was producing dust in the lead up to and after the outburst,” said Mr De. “However, it takes time for gas to become cool and start condensing dust molecules.”
The Sun-like star was around 10 billion years old.