(ORDO NEWS) — They say that in five billion years the Sun will die and become a white dwarf. But the latest NASA research gives us a chance to escape, writes Videnskab. Scientists recently discovered for the first time a planet orbiting a white dwarf and not destroyed by its colossal gravity.
When the Sun dies in five billion years, it will become a dead star – a white dwarf.
But does this mean the end of our planet Earth?
During a new study, scientists first discovered a planet orbiting a white dwarf. And this proves that planets can exist near such stars, according to Cornell University in the United States.
It is a Jupiter-sized gas planet named WD 1856 b.
“When a white dwarf is born, it destroys all nearby planets, and, as a rule, its enormous gravity tears to pieces anything that comes too close to it. We still have many questions about how WD 1856 b ended up where it is today and why it did not suffer the same fate,” said Andrew Vanderburg, professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin Madison, in a press release from NASA.
The results of the new study were published in the scientific journal Nature, and it was carried out, including the participation of the Technical University of Denmark.
The planet was discovered using the TESS telescope, designed specifically to search for exoplanets. The telescope itself is owned by NASA, and Danish scientists have provided the technology and intelligence to complete the task.
The new discovery gives hope over time to find out whether life can survive on the planet after its star collapses and turns into a white dwarf, scientists at Cornell University write.
“If there are solid planets near white dwarfs, we may be able to detect signs of life on them in the coming years,” suggests Lisa Kaltenegger, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and director of the Carl Sagan Institute.
In an accompanying study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, she recently estimated the likelihood of detecting signs of life in the atmospheres of planets orbiting white dwarfs. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to go into space next October, could help with this, according to the study.
“By observing Earth-like planets orbiting white dwarfs, the James Webb Space Telescope can detect traces of water and carbon dioxide in a matter of hours,” adds Ryan MacDonald, co-author of the study, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Since the recently discovered WD 1856 b is a gas planet, this is not the best place to search for life as we know it.
But the existence of a planet orbiting a white dwarf may indicate that signs of life can be found on smaller solid planets orbiting such stars.
“What if the death of a star is not the end of all life? Will life exist after our sun dies? If we find signs of life on planets that revolve around white dwarfs, it will not only become an example of the incredible stability of life but also give us some idea of our own future.”
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