Astronomers say that similar to the demise of ZTF SLRN-2020, the Earth too will face the same fatal fate – however, the end won’t be claiming civilization for another roughly 5 billion years.
Newly published findings revealed the moment in which astronomers witnessed the stunning celestial act of a dying star being completely engulfed by a nearby planet thousands of light-years away.
Officials spotted the cosmic act in May of 2020 during observations in the constellation Aquila, which sits about 12,000 light-years away. Researchers had been investigating stellar mergers when they came upon the find.
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“Planets with short orbital periods (roughly under 10 days) are common around stars like the sun. Stars expand as they evolve and thus we expect their close planetary companions to be engulfed, possibly powering luminous mass ejections from the host star,” write the study authors, who are from MIT, Harvard University, and Caltech.
“However, this phase has never been directly observed. Here we report observations of ZTF SLRN-2020, a short-lived optical outburst in the Galactic disk accompanied by bright and long-lived infrared emission.”
As the star was dying, it became 100 times brighter than it was during an earlier span of just 10 days before eventually slowly fading. The planet that was engulfed by the dying star is believed to have been a hot, Jupiter-sized planet which either spiraled too close to the dying star, or was pulled in by its atmosphere.
It’s the End of a World as We Know It
Astronomers spotted a dying star swallowing a large planet, a discovery that fills in a “missing link” in understanding the fates of Earth and many other planets. pic.twitter.com/QeefGESKAA
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