An international team of scientists has found a planetary system that allows a glimpse of the future of the Solar System after the death of the Sun.
It is a system made up of a white dwarf star and a planet similar to Jupiter, reports the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in a statement.
In about five billion years, the Sun will run out of fuel and begin to sink under its own weight, a process that will heat and expand the outer layers that will engulf the orbits of Mercury, Venus, and perhaps Earth.
This stage, the red giant, will be followed by another in which the envelope will expand freely forming a planetary nebula and in whose center the bare core of what was the Sun, a white dwarf star, will still shine, continues the CSIC note , the largest Spanish public research center.
Although some studies claim that planets could survive the death of the Sun, specifically those similar to Jupiter, observational evidence is still scarce.
Now, a group of scientists with the participation of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) presents in the journal Nature the discovery of a system formed by a white dwarf and a Jovian-type planet, which allows us to glimpse the possible future of the Solar System .
High-resolution images obtained from the Keck Observatory (USA) reveal that the newly discovered white dwarf has 60% the mass of the Sun and that its surviving exoplanet is a giant gas world with a mass 40% greater than that of the Sun. Jupiter’s.
The planet revolves around the star in a wide orbit, at a minimum distance of about three times that between the Earth and the Sun.
“This finding confirms that planets orbiting at a sufficiently great distance can continue to exist after the death of their star,” said Joshua Blackman, a researcher at the University of Tasmania in Australia who is leading the study.
Since this system is an analog to our own Solar System, it suggests that Jupiter and Saturn could survive the red giant phase of the Sun.
“Given that 97% of the stars in our galaxy will become white dwarfs, this discovery and those that follow will allow us to glimpse the future of exoplanets,” says Camilla Danielski, a researcher at the IAA-CSIC.
The research team plans to include their results in a statistical study to find out how many other white dwarfs have intact planetary survivors.