Astronomers have discovered something extraordinary through the hazy glow of a dark white dwarf star 410 light-years from Earth. A planet orbiting this dead star has evidently survived the catastrophic implosion that claimed the life of the sun.
It's just the second corpse ever to orbit a perished star, reports The Washington Post.
The planet did not escape unscathed; It's a scorched world that has completely robbed her outerwear. These layers now drift like rubble around a shipwreck, suggesting their once-rocky planetary fame. Only one metal core of the former world is intact, but it remains intact – and that's impressive, considering what this planet had to endure.
It could be a threatening glimpse into the future of the earth as our solar system will face the same fate as this white dwarf in about 5 billion years.
All stars that are too small for a supernova or fall into a black hole, like our sun, will eventually lose their hydrogen fuel and die. However, stars do not mix this mortal spiral without fighting. When their fuel runs out, these stars rise to huge sizes called red giants, which consume orbits of nearby planets. In our solar system Mercury and Venus are certainly completely swallowed. The earth is also charred.
With some luck, the Earth's core could also spit out intact, like this far-away planetoid.
After the red giant's phase, our sun will expand and fade away and eventually shrink to a mass about the size of our planet that glows faintly, a shell of the once shining star it once was.
This happened to the White Dwarf, known as SDSS J1
"We have an insight into our possible future," said Jessie Christiansen, an astronomer at NASA's Exoplanet Research Institute who was not involved in the new study. "It's exciting and you can imagine this happening here."
This unusual discovery was found with the world's largest optical telescope, the Gran Telescopio Canarias in Spain. The dead solar system was marked after it was noticed that its light signature was constantly interrupted by a revolving natural gas stream that we now know to be the debris around the surviving metal planet. The discovery of astronomers at the University of Warwick in England was published in the journal Science.
Due to the planet's narrow orbit with its sun and the surprising fact that it has survived the death of its sun, researchers speculate that it must be incredibly dense, most likely a solid ball of iron.
Scientists now want to find other worlds like these to better understand the fate of our own solar system. Considering the fact that cloud clouds are often seen around white dwarfs, there is hope that the galaxy will be filled with such preserving worlds, which could increase the chances that our solar system will survive the death of the sun.
"All this suggests that up to half of all white dwarfs have planetary systems that have survived their development and are flowing in material," said Christopher Manser, one of the study's astrophysicists.
And when planetary systems can survive for their white dwarf stars, there is optimism that life could experience a second genesis, even though it would revolve around it. It is a warming thought that life in our solar system can live on even after the death of the sun.
We have just discovered a burned planet that survived its sun.
University of Warwick astronomers said they discovered a large fragment of a former planet that is in a disk of debris around a dead star.