While surveying the skies in search of habitable planets, NASA’s space observatory Kepler finds real-life Death star disintegrating orbiting planet, which is about the size of Ceres, the largest space body in the asteroid belt.
Researchers explained that the planet won’t be pulverized in the blink of an eye like it happened in the Star Wars series. Instead it would tale at least a million years before it completely vanishes.
Scientist said that watching the planet die can help them better understand how our solar system would look like at the end of its days. NASA researchers noticed that the planet was steadily crumbling from the data gathered by the Kepler space telescope.
Next, scientists compared Kepler’s data with data acquired by ground telescopes to confirm the findings. It is the first time a dwarf star is caught in the act of destroying a neighboring space body.
“This is something no human has seen before. We’re watching a solar system get destroyed,”
said Andrew Vanderburg , senior researcher involved in the findings and astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Vanderburg explained that the debris resulted from the ill-fated planet is diminishing the white dwarf’s starlight. The vapor resulted from the decomposing planet gets caught into the star’s orbit and blocks its shine.
This is how researchers learned what was really going on with the two space bodies. When a star like our sun reaches its final days it grows into a red dwarf that swallows other planets around it. This is the fate of our star, too, which is expected to grow large enough to engulf Venus, Mercury and even our planet. But that won’t happen anytime soon.
When they become depleted of fuel, old stars get rid of their outer layer, while their center shrinks into a hugely dense white dwarf. Our sun is expected to also morph into a white dwarf. If it were bigger, it would have ended its life in a spectacular stellar burst called a supernova.
It is the first time a group of scientists detected a disintegrating planet orbiting its dying dwarf star and helping it replenish its lost material. Kepler was able to gather more data on the broken-up planet because it has a small orbit and transits its host star really quickly.
We know that Kepler found a real-life Death Star disintegrating orbiting planet from the dust of the planet passing in front of the star. Researcher noticed that instead of being transited by a regular planet, the white dwarf was transited by a decaying planet that had a comet-like dust trail behind it.
Image Source: Pixabay
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