Scientists Found a Giant Planet near a White Dwarf

The discovery gives scientists a new look at what can happen to our solar system in 5-6 billion years.

What Is a Giant Planet?

Astronomers have discovered a giant planet in the orbit of a white dwarf ⏤ a small and dense formation. It is a form that the stars become when they exhaust their nuclear fuel. According to BBC, this is the first direct evidence that planets can survive the catastrophic process that results in the formation of a white dwarf. Details of the discovery were published in the Nature journal. The solar system will not forever exist in the form in which humanity knows it. After about 6 billion years, the Sun, which belongs to medium-sized yellow stars, will increase 200 times. At this stage, our parent star will become a red giant.

Analysis of the spectral traces of the white dwarf WD J0914 + 1914 revealed rare traces of the chemical composition of the gas giant, revealing a stellar system completely different from the others.

Using data collected through the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), researchers from the UK, Chile, and Germany found signs of a planet like Uranus spinning very close to a distant white dwarf.

Scientists have suggested the presence of the object by indirect signs: the star is surrounded by a gas disk, the composition of which is not similar to any studied earlier, but coincides with predictions about the substances contained in the bowels of the planets from the class of ice giants. The studied system is interesting in the context of stellar evolution, as it represents one of the possible scenarios of the future solar system.

At a distance of about 2000 light-years, WD J0914 + 1914 is difficult to see even by the standards of a white dwarf. Initially, researchers studying its spectrum thought it was a binary star system, thanks to the hydrogen component. Upon closer inspection, obvious signs of oxygen with shades of sulfur were soon discovered.

By controlling the spectral data through a simulation program, the team was able to simulate the conditions that we could expect in the immediate environment of WD J0914 + 1914.

The white dwarf that the scientists are observing has a temperature of about 30 thousand degrees Celsius. For comparison, the temperature of the Sun is 6 thousand degrees. That is, this white dwarf is 5 times hotter. It means that it emits significantly more ultraviolet radiation. Such a conclusion was made by Dr. Christopher Manser of the University of Warwick. The gravitational forces are very powerful. Therefore, if any body, for example, an asteroid, approaches a white dwarf, gravity will tear it to pieces. The astronomer portends the self-destruction of mankind before the death of the Sun from the explosion of the sun. A huge planet in orbit loses its atmosphere due to the influence of the remnants of the star leaving a trail behind it, like a comet. A white dwarf is bombing it with highly charged photons and knocking out gases at a speed of 3 thousand tons per second.

For a giant to vaporize in this way, it must be as close to the white dwarf as possible. According to researchers, it will be about 15 solar radii or about 10 million km. For comparison, Mercury has an orbit that brings it closer to our Sun at a distance of at least 46 million km.

How Are We Close to the Sun?

The US Space Agency's Parker Solar Probe flew closer to the Sun than any probe before that time. It has already sent to Earth the first data collected at the edge of the infernal atmosphere of a star. According to The Guardian, this information gives new clues to scientists on several old secrets. For example, why the atmosphere of the Sun, which is also called the corona, is hundreds of times hotter than its surface. Also, researchers now know exactly the origin of the solar wind.

Over the next six years, a vehicle the size of a car will move in an orbit even closer to the Sun. Finally, it will fly so close that it technically “touches” the star. Unfortunately, Parker Solar Probe will not take a photo of the Sun, approaching so close. This is because its camera will just melt. However, the probe will collect data on the fluxes of charged particles in the solar wind. The next question which will arise will be “What tools aerospace engineers use and will apply to move on this project?” Hope, we will find out this soon.

What Is a White Dwarf?

White dwarfs represent the final stage in the evolution of a small star with a mass comparable to that of the sun. In which case do they appear? When in the center of a star, for example, like our Sun, all hydrogen burns out, its core shrinks to high densities, while the outer layers expand greatly, and the star turns into a red giant accompanied by a general dimming of luminosity. The pulsating red giant then drops its shell, since the outer layers of the star are loosely connected to the central hot and very dense core. Subsequently, this shell becomes an expanding planetary nebula. As you can see, red giants and white dwarfs are very closely interconnected.

The compression of the nucleus occurs to extremely small sizes, but it does not exceed the Chandrasekhar limit, that is, the upper limit of the mass of the star at which it can exist in the form of a white dwarf.

The celestial bodies with which we are dealing are a natural range, thanks to which a person can study the structure of stars, the stages of their evolution. If the birth of stars can be explained by physical laws that equally act in any environment, then the evolution of stars is represented by completely different processes. The scientific explanation of many of them goes into the category of quantum mechanics, the science of elementary particles.

White dwarfs look the most mysterious objects in this world:

● firstly, the process of degeneration of the core of a star looks very curious, as a result of which stellar matter does not scatter in space, but, on the contrary, shrinks to unimaginable sizes;

● secondly, in the absence of thermonuclear reactions, white dwarfs remain quite hot space objects;

● thirdly, these stars, having a high color temperature, have low luminosity.

To these and many other questions, scientists of all stripes, astrophysicists, physicists, and nuclear scientists have to give answers that will allow us to predict the fate of our native luminary. The sun awaits the fate of the white dwarf, but the question remains whether a person will be able to observe the Sun in this role.

In this regard, scientists are going to continue research on the found system, hoping that this will shed light on events in our solar system when the Sun reaches the end of its life.