Earth to be swallowed by Sun? Know what scientists saw for the first time ever | Tech News

Earth to be swallowed by Sun? Know what scientists saw for the first time ever

For the first time ever, a Sun-like star swallowing a planet has been observed by scientists. This may well confirm a prediction that Earth death will happen the same way.

| Updated on: May 05 2023, 14:15 IST
Bewitching NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Supermassive black hole, Centaurus A Galaxy, more
1/5 The Great Carina Nebula is about 8500 light-years away from Earth. (Carlos Taylor/NASA)
2/5 Flat rocks on Mars (May 2) - Flat rock hills on the surface of Mars were shot by NASA’s Curiosity Rover. When compared to the steep rocks of Earth, Martian rocks are considerably flat everywhere. This is because the Martian geography has been shaped by impact processes, erosion in particular. The Martian wind, which is 95% Carbon Dioxide, acts as sandpaper and rubs against the rocks, which flattens them. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Neville Thompson)
3/5 Centaurus A Galaxy (May 3) - This captured image shows the elliptical galaxy NGC 5128, also known as Centaurus A. This peculiar galaxy is located about 11 million light-years away towards the constellation of Centaurus and spans about 60,000 light-years across. According to NASA, Centaurus A is the closest active galaxy to Earth and is the result of the collision of two galaxies which caused star clusters and dark dust lanes to jumble up.  (NASA/Marco Lorenzi/Angus Lau/Tommy Tse)
4/5 Messier 87’s Supermassive Black Hole (May 4) - The image shows the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87. Messier 87 is a supergiant elliptical galaxy located about 55 million light-years away towards the constellation of Virgo. Alongside the black hole, relativistic jet blasting from the galaxy’s central region can be observed. This is due to ionized matter within the jet moving at the speed of light. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Event Horizon Telescope)
5/5 Shackleton crater on the Moon (May 5) - It is a snapshot of Shackleton crater located on the South Pole of the Moon. According to NASA, peaks along the Shackleton crater's rim are exposed to almost continual sunlight, while the interior is perpetually in shadow. This is due to the Moon being slightly tilted on its axis. The lunar South Pole, which is where this crater is located, has also been chosen as one of the most probable landing sites for future Moon missions. ( NASA/ShadowCam/Korea Aerospace Research Institute/Arizona State University)
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Here is how Earth death will likely happen. (Photo by Handout / NSF's NOIRLab / AFP) (AFP)

Have you ever wondered about Earth death? Though there have been several rumors saying that the planet will enter a black hole or a huge asteroid collision can lead to its ending, there is no specific reason or proof for the same. However, now, it is being said that Earth can get swallowed by the Sun in around 5 billion years. According to a report by AFP, scientists have observed a dying star swallowing a planet for the first time, offering a preview of Earth's expected fate in around five billion years.

Most planets are believed to meet their end when their host star runs out of energy, turning into a red giant that massively expands, devouring anything unlucky enough to be in its path. "But when the Sun finally does engulf Earth, it will cause only a "tiny perturbation" compared to this cosmic explosion, the US astronomers said," according to the report. Notably, astronomers had previously seen the before-and-after effects of this process, but had never before caught a planet in the act of being consumed.

The scientists have estimated that it was likely a hot, Jupiter-sized world that spiraled close, then was pulled into the dying star's atmosphere, and, finally, into its core. A similar fate will befall the Earth, though not for another 5 billion years when the sun is expected to burn out and burn up the solar system's inner planets.

Kishalay De, a postdoc researcher at MIT in the United States and the lead author of the new study, said the accidental discovery unfolded like a "detective story". "It all started about three years ago when I was looking at data from the Zwicky Transient Facility survey, which takes images of the sky every night," De told an online press conference, as quoted by AFP.

He stumbled across a star that had suddenly increased in brightness by more than 100 times over a 10-day period. Published in the journal, 'Nature', the planetary extinction appears to have occurred in our own galaxy, around 12000 light-years away, near the eagle-like constellation Aquila.

"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," De added.

Morgan MacLeod, a postdoc at Harvard University and co-author of the study, published in the journal Nature, said that most of the thousands of planets discovered outside the Solar System so far "will eventually suffer this fate". And in comparison, Earth will most likely end not with a bang but a whimper.

When the Sun expands past Mercury, Venus and Earth in an estimated five billion years, they will make "less dramatic disturbances" because rocky planets are so much smaller than gas giants, MacLeod said. "In fact, they will be really minor perturbations to the power output of the Sun," he said.

But even before it gets swallowed, Earth will already be "quite inhospitable," because the dying Sun will have already evaporated all the planet's water, MacLeod added.

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First Published Date: 05 May, 14:15 IST