Artist’s concept shows a white dwarf with a gas giant planet and debris circling in orbit. This is a glimpse into the solar system’s future. Image via W. M. Keck Observatory/ Adam Makarenko.
Scientists now have evidence that some of our solar system’s planets can survive the death of our sun. They said on October 13, 2021, that they’ve found a star system – about 6,500 light-years away, toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy – consisting of a star once like our sun but now a compact white dwarf. This star has a gas giant planet still orbiting it, similar in size and orbit to our solar system’s large planet Jupiter. It’s evidence that Jupiter (at least) can and will survive when our own sun swells up to become a red giant, just before it enters the white dwarf stage of star evolution. The newly discovered Jupiter-sized planet now circles its star’s cold, burnt-out remains. And so, for the first time, we’re glimpsing into our own solar system’s future, some 5 billion years from now.
The astronomers published their study on October 13 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.
Astronomers made the discovery with the W. M. Keck Observatory ...