Expanding Sun Could Soon Swallow The Solar System Turning It To Dust

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University of Warwick researchers predict a dire future for our solar system, suggesting it could be consumed by a white dwarf star, leading to its destruction. Their study examines the fate of planetary systems drawn into the gravitational pull of these dense stellar remnants.

Transits around white dwarfs tears moons, asteroids and planets

The study published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) discusses white dwarfs, the remnants of stars that have used up their fuel, providing insights into stellar evolution. Researchers studied these objects’ fate by analyzing transits, dips in star brightness caused by objects passing in front of them.

The transits around white dwarfs, unlike those caused by planets, are irregular and disorderly, indicating a highly destructive process. Dr. Amornrat Aungwerojwit from Naresuan University stated transits occur because the intense gravity of white dwarfs tears apart asteroids, moons, and planets into smaller fragments.

The collision of fragments results in their transformation into dust, which then settles into the white dwarf. This phenomenon aids in the analysis of the composition of the initial planetary bodies. Scientists studied the brightness variations of three white dwarfs over 17 years to understand the disruption process better.

The detection of asteroid debris orbiting a white dwarf is astonishing. Boris Gaensicke, a professor at Warwick’s Department of Physics, emphasizes that these systems evolve quickly, sometimes in just a few years.

Expanding sun may swallow the earth

In recent years three white dwarf stars, namely ZTF J0328−1219, ZTF J0923+4236, and WD 1145+017, displayed intriguing behaviors. ZTF J0328−1219 underwent a significant event circa 2010 after a period of stability while ZTF J0923+4236 exhibited irregular dimming and chaotic variability, with brief faint states followed by brightening. On the other hand, WD 1145+017 initially matched theoretical expectations but failed to show expected transits in a recent study.

While the immediate future seems secure, the eventual transformation of the Sun into a red giant and then a white dwarf could lead to the destruction of Earth and other celestial bodies due to gravitational forces. Gaensicke suggests Earth may be swallowed by the expanding Sun before it becomes a white dwarf.

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