Dying star consumes planet for the first time witnessed by scientists

"First-Ever Observation of a Dying Star Consuming a Planet Provides Insight into the Future of our Solar System"

Image Credit: DAWN

For the first time, scientists have witnessed a dying star consuming a gas giant planet the size of Jupiter. This phenomenon was observed by a group of scientists from MIT, Harvard, and Caltech, who noted that this occurrence holds significance as it serves as a preview of what will happen to Earth when the Sun transforms into a red giant and consumes the four inner planets.

While astronomers have previously witnessed similar events, this is the first time that the consumption itself has been observed, according to a study published in Nature.

Kishalay De, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT and the lead author of the study, stated that it was surreal to realize that they may have discovered the first-ever example of observing a similar event in real-time, as the fact that our solar system planets would eventually be consumed by the Sun is something he first learned about in high school.

According to the researchers, the process involves a larger star expanding as it ages and grows to a million times its original size, as it exhausts its fuel and engulfs all the planets in its vicinity. Astronomers noted that the event appeared as a bright, white flash, followed by a longer-lasting, cooler signal, which they attributed to the star consuming the planet.

The event took place in the Aquila constellation, approximately 12,000 light-years away, and was observed by Kishalay De in 2020. It took the team a year to comprehend the meaning of the white-hot flash.

Mr. De stated that one of the essential pieces of evidence that they were attempting to understand was the production of dust before and after the outburst, but it takes time for gas to cool and start to condense into dust molecules.

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