(CNN) For the first time in the world, scientists have observed the moment when a person is dying a star He consumed a planet – a fate that ultimately awaited him Land.
Although astronomers have seen planets before and shortly after being swallowed by a star, this is the first time planetary demise has been observed, according to a team of scientists from MIT, Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology. technology.
“The fact that planets in the solar system will be engulfed by the Sun in the future was something I first read about in high school, so it was surreal to realize that we may have found the first ever example of capturing a similar event in real time!” said lead study author Keshalay D, a postdoctoral researcher. at MIT, according to CNN.
The process sees a star billowing to a million times its original size as it runs out of fuel, swallowing any matter in its wake. Astronomers observed this as a hot white flash, followed by a cooler, longer-lasting signal, which they later concluded was caused by the star sweeping past a planet.
“One night, I noticed a star that shone by a factor of 100 over the course of a week, out of nowhere,” Dee said in a press release. “It was unlike any starburst I’ve ever seen.”
The demise of the planets occurred about 12,000 light-years away in the constellation of Aquila, and involved planet The researchers said that the size of Jupiter.
They noticed the activity in May 2020, but it took a year to find out what they saw.
“One of the main pieces of evidence we were trying to understand is that the explosion was producing dust in the period leading up to and after the explosion,” said Di. “However, it takes time for the gas to cool down and start condensing into dust particles.”
Di explained that this meant the team had to wait to understand the properties of the dust.
The results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
“Vision of Earth’s Future”
First, the signal appeared in data from the Palomar Observatory in California, then Dee looked at data on the same star from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, before using Palomar Observatory’s infrared camera to gather more information.
“The infrared data made me fall off my chair,” Dee said. The readings indicate that the star may have merged with another star.
However, further analysis using readings from NASA’s infrared space telescope, NEOWISE, revealed that the star was in fact devouring a planet.
“Historically, it has been very difficult to obtain this type of infrared data, because infrared detectors are very expensive and it is difficult to build large cameras that can Repeatedly “Heaven pictures,” Dee told CNN.
“However, we are on the verge of a revolution in infrared astronomy, with many new tools coming online in the next decade that we hope will allow us to find similar events over and over again.”
As a result, De hopes to be able to expand our knowledge further.
“One of the key signatures we identified was the long-duration infrared glow that followed the optical explosion,” said Dee.
“Large infrared scans are expected to become available in the near future,” he told CNN.
Researchers say that our planet will face the same fate, but not for 5 billion years.
“We see the future of Earth,” Dee said in a press release. “If another civilization were watching us from 10,000 light-years away as the sun swallowed the earth, they would see the sun suddenly rise as it ejected some material, then form dust around it, before settling back to where it was.”
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