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Small, Hardy Planets Most Likely to Survive Death of Their Stars

15 May 2019, 19:30 UTC
Small, Hardy Planets Most Likely to Survive Death of Their Stars
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Small, hardy planets packed with dense elements have the best chance of avoiding being crushed and swallowed up when their host star dies, new research from the University of Warwick has found.Astrophysicists from the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group have modeled the chances of different planets being destroyed by tidal forces when their host stars become white dwarfs and have determined the most significant factors that decide whether they avoid destruction.Their ‘survival guide’ for exoplanets could help guide astronomers locate potential exoplanets around white dwarf stars, as a new generation of even more powerful telescopes is being developed to search for them. Their research is published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.Most stars like our own Sun will run out of fuel eventually and shrink and become white dwarfs. Some orbiting bodies that aren’t destroyed in the maelstrom caused when the star blasts away its outer layers will then be subjected to shifts in tidal forces as the star collapses and becomes super-dense. The gravitational forces exerted on any orbiting planets would be intense and would potentially drag them into new orbits, even pushing some further out in their solar systems.By modelling the effects of a white dwarf’s ...

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