Our Solar System will die a grisly death, will be ‘crushed and ground to dust’


Can you imagine life on Earth without Sun, the answer is a big No. We know, that life on this blue planet depends upon the energy provided by the star at the centre of our solar system. But imagine what will happen when the Sun will run out of its energy? Do we survive? Or the solar system where we live?

According to a study, published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS), like every star, Sun too has a limited lifetime. So, someday the Sun will die and parts of the Solar System including our Earth will be sucked by it–before it becomes a white dwarf —“crushed up, and ground into a fine dust”, New York Post reported.

The study conducted by researchers from the University of Warwick, when the Sun will run out of fuel, it will become a white dwarf, exerting a huge gravitational pull that could suck our system into where it will be crushed. White dwarf stars are the final stage of a star’s life, once it has run out of fuel and does not have enough mass to become a black hole.

The researchers said this will likely happen in around 6 billion years. 

“The sad news is that the Earth will probably just be swallowed up by an expanding Sun, before it becomes a white dwarf,” Professor Boris Gaensicke of the Department of Physics, University of Warwick, said, as per the New York Post.

“For the rest of the solar system, some of the asteroids located between Mars and Jupiter, and maybe some of the moons of Jupiter may get dislodged and travel close enough to the eventual white dwarf to undergo the shredding process we have investigated,” Mr Gaensicke added.

During the study, the researchers examined the brightness of three different white dwarf stars over 17 years. By watching how the brightness rose and fell, the scientists were able to determine when objects passed in front of the Sun and what kind of objects these were.

The researchers noticed that in most of stars, the changes in brightness, or transits, are highly predictable as the planets orbit in their regular pattern. But around white dwarf stars, researchers found that the transits were highly chaotic and irregular. 

This suggests that the fate of bodies surrounding white dwarf stars is likely to be catastrophic and violent. 

The researchers said the planets, asteroids and moons that come close to the dense core of a white dwarf are shredded as they are pulled into smaller pieces by gravity. Eventually, these pieces are ground into dust as they collide with each other.

“The simple fact that we can detect the debris of asteroids, maybe moons or even planets whizzing around a white dwarf every couple of hours is quite mind-blowing, but our study shows that the behaviour of these systems can evolve rapidly, in a matter of a few years,” Gaensicke said. 

“While we think we are on the right path in our studies, the fate of these systems is far more complex than we could have ever imagined,” he added.

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Published: 09 Apr 2024, 04:14 PM IST


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