DEC 25, 2016 09:40 PM PST

Nearby Star System Helps Researchers Predict the Distant Future of Our Solar System

Have you ever wondered what’s going to happen to the Earth in the distant future of the Solar System? You’re definitely not alone; this same question boggles the minds of astronomers and researchers who study the Solar System and all of outer space every day for a living.

We have a pretty good idea of what may happen; the Sun is going to swell, up to 100 times its current size. This growth spurt will likely swallow Mercury and Venus, but it’s not really known what might happen to the Earth, the third planet inline in our Solar System.

Regardless, a glimpse at a nearby star system just 208 light years away from Earth is providing scientists with a pretty clear view of just what the Solar System might be like some 5 billion years into the future. The findings have been published in an entry in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Image Credit: P. Kervella et al. (CNRS / U. de Chile / Observatoire de Paris / LESIA / ESO / ALMA)

The star, dubbed L2 Puppis, is estimated to be around 10 billion years old, and astronomers believe that 5 billion years ago, it looked like a twin of our Sun today, with the same general mass and stage in its evolutionary cycle.

Spying on it through what’s said to be the world’s most capable and powerful radio telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Northern Chile, researchers say that we’re looking at a pretty accurate representation of what our Solar System could evolve into.

The system even has what appears to be a planet orbiting the star. The planet might be orbiting the star at nearly double the distance that the Earth orbits the Sun (300 million kilometers away), but that aside, the star itself has pretty similar characteristics.

“Five billion years from now, the Sun will have grown into a red giant star, more than a hundred times larger than its current size,” says Professor Leen Decin from the KU Leuven Institute of Astronomy and co-author of the study.

“It will also experience an intense mass loss through a very strong stellar wind. The end product of its evolution, 7 billion years from now, will be a tiny white dwarf star. This will be about the size of the Earth, but much heavier: one tea spoon of white dwarf material weighs about 5 tons.”

Earth may continue to orbit this white dwarf star that was once the Sun when the time comes, but because of the circumstances of the swelling star as time goes by, life most likely would have vanished from the Earth by the time the Sun evolves into one.

While this system could provide insight, no two systems are 100% identical. Regardless, it’s still interesting to see how another system behaves in certain conditions and compare it to our own, as doing this sort of thing almost always leads to some kind of eureka discovery.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 23, 2019
SpaceX Launches RADARSAT Satellites for the Canadian Space Agency
SpaceX moved forward with a prearranged Falcon 9 rocket launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday morning in a move that helped th...
OCT 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 23, 2019
The 'Fulton Gap' Could Explain an Ongoing Question Regarding Planet Formation
When looking at the bulk of distant exoplanets discovered by astronomers over the years, one thing seems obvious: most of those are either smaller to or eq...
OCT 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 23, 2019
Will Humans One Day Give Birth in Space?
Deep space missions are becoming an increasingly relevant topic of discussion in the space community these days, and perhaps unsurprisingly, this often lea...
OCT 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 23, 2019
Here's What We Know About the Big Bang and the Universe's Expansion
One of the most widely accepted notions regarding the formation of the universe is the Big Bang theory. In a nutshell, it’s a concept in which all of...
OCT 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 23, 2019
How Large Solar Storms Can Impact Earth's Power Grid
The Sun is a powerful ball of energy, and with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that it can sometimes become unstable. Over time, the...
OCT 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 23, 2019
Why a Metal Asteroid Tops NASA's Must-Explore List
Innumerable amounts of asteroids exist in the asteroid belt that resides between Mars and Jupiter in orbit around the Sun, but one specimen in particular a...
Loading Comments...