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The Hungry Star That Can’t Stop Snacking!
When a small star like our Sun has finally begun to use up its necessary supply of hydrogen fuel, it first inflates to monstrous proportions to become what is known as a The Red Giant star This highly bloated, red-tinged relic of what was once a small, bright, Sun-like star balloon, sized to the point that – if surrounded by the unlucky inner planets – would include those with prolonged and burning. hot outer gaseous layers, thus consuming them. In June 2014, a team of astronomers announced at the summer meeting of the American Astronomical Society, held in Boston, Massachusetts, that they had seen a particularly hungry person. The Red Giant star that was ready to eat not only one but twodoomed planets!
The two tragic worlds, dubbed Kepler-56b AND Kepler-56c are destined to be swallowed up by their greedy parent star in a “short” time—by cosmic standards, that is. Both planets will disappear in about 130 million and 155 million years, respectively.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time that two known exoplanets in a single system have a predicted ‘death time,'” said lead study author Dr. Gongjie Li to the press on June 2, 2014. Dr. Li is his Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
She presented her study at a press conference held at the 224th AAS meeting.
The Hungry Star Kepler-56 is in the process of turning into a bloated, gluttonous one The Red Giant. It has already swelled to monstrous proportions and is currently about four times the size of our Sun. As it grows, it will continue to expand outward. Not only will the red star grow larger, but its tides will become more powerful, pulling its planets inward to their eventual tragic fate.
Even before evaporating from their star, both planets will undergo intense heating from their ever-expanding parent star. Their atmospheres, if present, will begin to boil – and the miserable planets themselves will be stretched into egg shapes by the strong stellar tides.
of Kepler-56 system is much more than just a tragic example of what happens at the end of a small star main sequence (hydrogen-burning) “life”. It also offers a disturbing glimpse into the future of our Solar System. In about five billion years our Sun will also blow into a rage The Red Gianthurling itself to monstrous proportions, involving first Mercury, then Venus—and then, perhaps, Earth.
Sunshine on steroids
Our Solar System emerged from the tangled debris left over from the ancient, long-dead, nuclear-fusion cores of previous generations of stars. Our Sun formed in a very cold, dense pocket secreted within a large dark interstellar molecular cloud. There are many such cool clouds that follow our large barred spiral Milky Way galaxy, and they serve as strange cradles for its fiery stars. Ultimately, the very dense pocket of star birth embedded within the dark molecular cloud – composed mostly of gas but also containing a pinch of dust – will collapse under the weight of its own gravity to give birth to a brilliant young star. . In the secret depths of such large, cold, dark clouds, thin, delicate threads of material gradually tangle together and melt into clumps that grow over hundreds of thousands of years. Then, it happens – suddenly the dense pocket is squeezed enough, by the pressure of gravity, to the point that the hydrogen atoms floating around inside it start to melt. This ignites the little star’s fire, and it will continue to rage as long as the star “lives”!
All 400 billion stars in our galaxy, including our Sun, were born this way — through the gravitational collapse of heavy pockets embedded within cold, dark molecular clouds. These black wavy clouds are scattered throughout our Milky Way, and they hold within them the gas and dust of long-gone generations of ancient stars that were destroyed long ago.
Our sun is an average age, main sequence, fairly common small star. It was born about 4.56 billion years ago and appears to us in our daytime sky as a large, wild, shimmering golden sphere. There are eight major planets, a multitude of moons and moons, and a rich variety of smaller objects—rocky and icy—surrounding our Star, which resides on the far outskirts of a typical, but magnificent, large galaxy.
However, in another 5 billion years – or so – our Sun will go The Red Giant! A star of the relatively small mass of our Sun “lives for about 10 billion years in main sequence. For now, though, our Sun and stars like it—which are experiencing an active middle age—are still alive and jumpy enough to continue happily burning hydrogen in their stellar furnaces by nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion progressively produces heavier atomic elements from lighter ones, in a process called stellar nucleosynthesis.
When our Sun and other stars like it have finally burned through the necessary supply of hydrogen fuel, their appearance changes. They are now old stars. At the heart of an old star similar to the Sun, there is a hidden core made of helium. The helium core is surrounded by a shell in which hydrogen is still fusing into helium. At this point, the shell begins to expand outward, and the core continues to expand as the star grows older and older. Finally, the helium core itself begins to contract under the weight of its own mass and gets hotter and hotter until, finally, it becomes hot enough in the center to start a new phase of nuclear combustion. In this new phase, helium fuses to form the even heavier atomic element, carbon. In another five billion years, our doomed Star will have a small, hot core that will emit more energy than it currently does. The gaseous outer layers of our Sun will have turned red and puffy, and it will no longer be the beautiful, brilliant golden ball we observe lighting up our sky during the day. The fiery red, bloated, aged sun will turn into one The Red Giant, with a terrible appetite that will make him cook meals for his inner planet children. The temperature at the surface of this purple ball of angry, burning gas will actually be slightly cooler than the surface of our Sun today. That explains it comparatively cool red shade – contrasted with a much hotter, fizzy, boiling yellow.
When our sun goes The Red Giant it will still be hot enough to turn the frozen inhabitants of the distance Kuiper belt— as is the dwarf planet Pluto and its nearby icy objects — in tropical paradises. However, this tranquil tropical haven of refuge won’t last forever. The core of our aging, dying sun will continue to shrink because it is no longer able to emit radiation as a result of the process of nuclear fusion–and will have reached the end of that long stellar path, for all further evolution will be determined by gravity alone. Eventually, our Sun will shed its gaseous outer layers into interstellar space—but its core will remain in one piece, and all of the Sun’s matter will eventually collapse into this tiny remnant object that is only the size of Earth. Our sun will have undergone a sea change and in its death throes will have become a kind of stellar corpse known as a white dwarf This strange, dense relic of what was once our fiery, incandescent star will be surrounded by a stunningly beautiful shell of expanding multi-colored gases that were once its outer layers – called a planetary nebula. planetary nebulae, which surround white dwarfs, got their strange name because earlier astronomers thought they resembled the planets Uranus and Neptune.
Right now, our planet sits quite comfortably—albeit close, in cosmic terms—to the inner edge of our star. residential area, where water can exist in its liquid state, and therefore life can evolve. of residential area it will spread further and further as our Star shines brighter and brighter. Even now, it is relentless, slowly, growing more sinister each time, murderously brilliant. In about 2 billion years, if human beings have managed to survive, the fragmented remains of our species will be forced off our planet before it evaporates from our Star. Mars will be the first choice for relocation – for a while anyway. However, about 3 billion years later, what is left of humanity will have to migrate again, because the Sun will be ready to eat that planet as well. The once-icy moons of the outer planets may prove to be safe havens, at this point—but, by this time, whatever may be left of our species would know better than to travel into interstellar space in search of of exoplanet houses. Our sun will shed its outer layers and become one white dwarf with a terrible and powerful gravitational pull. But before our Star finally goes into that good night, its outer layers will become that beautiful shroud of gases of shimmering, twinkling colors — a planetary nebulasometimes called the “cosmos butterfly”.
The star that can’t eat just one
Sadly both Kepler-56b AND Kepler-56c are significantly closer to their killer parent star than Mercury is to our Sun. Kepler-56b revolves around its star once every 10.5 days, while Kepler-56c rotates every 21.4 days. Therefore, both of these doomed planets will meet their unfortunate fate much sooner than Mercury about 5 billion years from now. Dr. Li and her team calculated the evolution of the star’s size (using the publicly available MESA code) and the planets’ orbits to predict when the planets will evaporate.
The sole survivor of what was once a planetary system will be Kepler-56d, which is a gas giant planet orbiting its star in an orbit of 3.3 Earth years. She will be placed at a safe distance while her two sister worlds become history.
of Kepler-56 the planetary system is also famous for being the first “tilted” multiplanet system to be observed. The orbits of the inner planet sibling pair are significantly tilted from the equator of their stellar parents. This turned out to be a surprise, because planets are born from the same disk of gas and dust (protoplanetary accretion disk) like the star, so they must orbit roughly in the same plane as the star’s equator—as do the planets in our solar system.
The team was able to better determine the inclination of these planets compared to previous studies. Astronomers found that the most likely inclination was either 37 or 131 degrees.
Dr. Li and her team also studied the inclination of the outer and much luckier planet and determined that its orbit is probably tilted relative to its star as well. Future observations should help curious astronomers characterize this interesting system and eventually explain how it managed to become so tilted.
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