In about 10 billion years our sun will die. But scientists could not predict exactly what would happen next.
Ninety percent of all stars end their lives as so-called planetary nebulae – huge, spherical clouds of bright (glowing) gas and dust. Many researchers believe that this will happen to the sun.
However, several scientific models have suggested that the mass of our star is too low to produce a visible planetary nebula – anything that would produce less than two solar masses is too weak to see.
Now an international team of astronomers has highlighted this topic in a new study published in the journal Nature Astronomy .
The team developed a scientific model that uses them to predict the life cycle of stars and the brightness of the nebula in conjunction with various star masses and ages. According to this model, the sun actually has the mass required to produce a planetary nebula. However, the dust cloud will be relatively weak (though still bright enough to be visible from neighboring galaxies)
"When a star dies, it ejects a mass of gas and dust ̵
" The hot core makes the ejected shell glow bright for about 10,000 years – a short period in astronomy, "said he. "This makes the planetary nebula visible, some so bright that you can see them from extremely long distances of tens of millions of light-years, where the star itself would have been far too weak to see it."
In the new model, stars form a bright planetary nebula much more often than in older models after dying, as they heat up three times faster when ejecting material.
Coincidentally, the new findings also show that the Mass of the Sun is almost exactly the lower bound for producing a visible planetary nebula. Stars with even minimally lower masses do not produce visible nebulae when they die, according to the scientists.
"We found that stars with a mass less than 1.1 times the mass of the sun have a weaker nebula, and stars greater than 3 nauticals have masses of bright nebula, but for the rest, the predicted brightness is very close on what was observed, "said Zijlstra.