Earth’s future: Astronomers spot a star swallowing a planet for the first time

For the first time, a group of astronomers observed a star swallow a planet. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, and other institutions saw the phenomenon and reported it in a study published in the Nature journal.

The death of the planet seems to have happened in our galaxy, at a distance of about 12,000 light years from us, near the constellation Aquila, writes Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Astronomers observed a star flare that became more than 100 times brighter in just 10 days and then quickly faded. The flash was followed by a colder and longer signal. Scientists believe that such a combination is the result of a neighboring planet being absorbed by a star.

According to scientists, the dead planet is probably a hot world the size of Jupiter that rotated in a spiral. Then it was dragged into the atmosphere of the dying star and, finally, into its core.

A similar fate will befall Earth, but not before 5 billion years, when the Sun is expected to burn out and burn the inner planets of the Solar System.

“We are seeing the future of the Earth,” said a researcher at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT, lead author Kishalay De. “If some other civilization was observing us from 10,000 light-years away while the sun was engulfing the Earth, they would see the sun suddenly brighten as it ejects some material, then form dust around it, before settling back to what it was.”

Astronomers discovered the flare in May 2020. But it took them another year to piece together an explanation for what it might be.

“For decades, we’ve been able to see the before and after,” De says. “Before, when the planets are still orbiting very close to their star, and after, when a planet has already been engulfed, and the star is giant. What we were missing was catching the star in the act, where you have a planet undergoing this fate in real-time. That’s what makes this discovery really exciting.”

We will also remind that recently astronomers successfully launched the super high pressure (SuperBIT) telescope on a giant balloon filled with helium. During the first flight above the Earth’s atmosphere, the balloon-telescope already took its debut pictures.