NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 6 June 2023: Planet destroyed by a star

Today’s NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is an animated illustration of the Sun-like star ZTF SLRN-2020 engulfing one of its own planets.

| Updated on: Jun 06 2023, 13:06 IST
Best NASA Astronomy Pictures of the Week: Messier 101, Dumbbell Nebula, and more
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NASA star ZTF SLRN-2020
2/5 Stellar Dumbbell Nebula (May 30) - Planetary nebula M27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula, is located about 1360 light-years away towards the constellation of Vulpecula. The Dumbbell Nebula was the 27th object and the first ever planetary nebula discovered and catalogued by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1764, one of the most influential figures in the history of astronomy. (NASA/Patrick A. Cosgrove)
NASA star ZTF SLRN-2020
3/5 Formation of our Universe throughout history (May 31) - This is an amazing computer simulation of our Universe as it developed throughout history. This simulation tracks gases leading from the early Universe till today. As the simulation goes on, the formation of a disk galaxy takes place. For the unaware, Disk Galaxies are formed when two or more galaxies merge, resulting in a pancake-shaped disk of stars. Our own Milky Way Galaxy is one such disk galaxy, and it will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy in the distant future, according to NASA. (NASA/ TNG Collaboration/MPCDF/FAS Harvard U)
NASA star ZTF SLRN-2020
4/5 Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A (June 1) -  It is a snapshot of Cassiopeia A, a supernova remnant located about 11000 light-years from Earth towards the constellation of Cassiopeia. When a star explodes, the subsequent explosion which takes place, known as a Supernova, is the largest explosion to occur in space. According to NASA, a supernova happens when there is a change in the core, or center, of a star. A change can occur in two different ways, with both resulting in a supernova. (NASA/Hubble/CXC)
NASA star ZTF SLRN-2020
5/5 Pinwheel Galaxy Messier 101 (June 2) - In this image, Messier 101, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy can be seen located about 25 million light-years away towards the Northern constellation of Ursa Major. Messier 101 is one of the last objects catalogued by Charles Messier and it is a massive pinwheel galaxy that spans about 170,000 light-years across. According to NASA, Messier 101 is also one of the first spiral nebulae to be observed by Lord Rosse's large 19th-century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown. (NASA/ESA/Hubble)
NASA star ZTF SLRN-2020
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The star ZTF SLRN-2020 is located about 12000 light-years away from Earth. (K. Miller/R. Hurt/IPAC/Caltech)

Stars are fueled by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen to form helium deep in their interiors. While most stars live for billions of years, it is known that the bigger the star, the shorter its lifespan. When a star runs out of fuel, its core collapses, crushing together every proton and electron into a neutron. This resulted in the creation of the densest object known to man, a Neutron star – an object with the mass of a sun squished down to the size of a city, as per NASA. While this is how a star dies, these objects are rarely known to be the cause behind the end of the world, but that changed with the 2020 event.

Today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is an animated illustration of the Sun-like star ZTF SLRN-2020 engulfing one of its own planets. While planets are known to meet their end by collapsing into the star they orbit, the phenomenon was witnessed first time directly during the 2020 event when a planet collapsed into the ZTF SLRN-2020 star. According to NASA, ZTF SLRN-2020 is located about 12000 light-years away from Earth, towards the constellation of Aquila.

This awesome illustration was created by K. Miller and R. Hurt of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at the California Institute of Technology, popularly known as Caltech.

NASA's description of the picture

It's the end of a world as we know it. Specifically, the Sun-like star ZTF SLRN-2020 was seen eating one of its own planets. Although many a planet eventually dies by spiraling into their central star, the 2020 event, involving a Jupiter-like planet, was the first time it was seen directly. The star ZTF SLRN-2020 lies about 12,000 light years from the Sun toward the constellation of the Eagle (Aquila). In the featured animated illustration of the incident, the gas planet's atmosphere is first pictured being stripped away as it skims along the outskirts of the attracting star.

Some of the planet's gas is absorbed into the star's atmosphere, while other gas is expelled into space. By the video's end, the planet is completely engulfed and falls into the star's center, causing the star's outer atmosphere to briefly expand, heat up, and brighten. One day, about eight billion years from now, planet Earth may spiral into our Sun.

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First Published Date: 06 Jun, 13:06 IST