Discovery of planet swirling into its own star may portend Earth’s ultimate fate

(ORDO NEWS) — For the first time, astronomers have identified a planet that is spiraling into a catastrophic collision with its aging Sun, potentially providing insight into how the Earth could one day perish.

In a new published study Monday, a group of researchers, mostly from the US, said they hope the doomed exoplanet Kepler-1658b will help shed light on how worlds die as their stars age. years from Earth, is known as the “hot Jupiter” planet.

Although the planet is similar in size to Jupiter, the planet orbits its star at an eighth of the distance between our Sun and Mercury, making it far hotter than a gas giant in our solar system.

Kepler-1658b’s orbit around its star takes less than three days and is getting shorter by about 131 milliseconds per year, according to a published study.

“If it continues to spiral toward its star at the observed speed, the planet will collide with i This is a star in less than three million years,” said Shreyas Wissapragada, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and lead author of the study.

“This is the first time we’ve seen direct evidence for a planet spiraling toward its evolved star,” he told AFP.

The evolved star has entered the “subgiant” phase of the stellar life cycle, when it begins to expand and become brighter.

Kepler-1658b’s orbit is shrinking due to tides, much like Earth’s oceans rise and fall every day.

This gravitational attraction can work in both directions – for example, the Moon spirals away from the Earth very slowly.

Earthly “last adios”?

Could the Earth be approaching a similar doom?

“Death-per-Star is a fate thought to be in store for many worlds, and could be Earth’s last adios in billions of years as our Sun gets older,” the Center for Astrophysics said in a statement.

Wissapragada said that “In five billies, in about a few years, the Sun will turn into a red giant star.”

Although the tidal processes observed on Kepler-1658b “will lead to a decrease in the Earth’s orbit towards the Sun,” this effect, according to him, can be balanced by a decrease in the mass of the Sun.

“The ultimate fate of the Earth is somewhat unclear,” he added.

Kepler-1658b was the first exoplanet ever observed by the Kepler space telescope, which was launched in 2009.

However, it took nearly a decade of work before the existence of the planet was confirmed in 2019, the Center for Astrophysics said.

For 13 years, astronomers have been able to observe the slow but constant change in the planet’s orbit as it crosses the face of its star.

One of the “big surprises” was that the planet itself is quite bright, Wissapragada said.

Previously, it was thought that this was due to the fact that it is a planet with a special reflectivity, he said.

But researchers now believe the planet itself is much hotter than previously thought, perhaps due to the same forces driving it to its star.


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