By W. M. Keck Observatory
October 14, 2021
Giant gas planet orbiting a dead star gives glimpse into the predicted aftermath of our sun’s demise.
Astronomers have discovered the very first confirmed planetary system that resembles the expected fate of our solar system, when the Sun reaches the end of its life in about five billion years.
The researchers detected the system using W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi; it consists of a
Artist rendering of a main sequence star ballooning into a red giant as it burns the last of its hydrogen fuel, then collapses into a white dwarf. What remains is a hot, dense core roughly the size of Earth and about half the mass of the Sun. A gas giant similar to Jupiter orbits from a distance, surviving the explosive transformation. Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory/Adam Makarenko
“This evidence confirms that planets orbiting at a large enough distance can continue to exist after their star’s death,” says Joshua Blackman, an astronomy postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tasmania in Australia and lead author of the study. “Given that this system is an analog to our own solar system, it suggests that Jupiter and