American astronomers have recorded how a sun-like star swallowed a Jupiter-like planet. They believe that the same fate awaits the Earth, writes The New York Times.
One of the authors of the study, an employee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Kishalay De, said that this is the “ultimate fate of the Earth.” According to him, the Earth could face this in five billion years.
The star, which is older than the Sun and 12,000 light-years from Earth, swallowed up the gaseous planet during its expansion, according to the researchers. It occurs when stars begin to die, and is accompanied by the absorption of any objects located within their expansion.
As De said, studying the absorption process was like a “detective story.” He saw an unusual flash with the Palomar Observatory Telescope in California in May 2020, and information from a telescope in Hawaii was also used to identify the incident. Then the event was observed in infrared light, which helped to establish – it was the absorption of the planet by a star. According to De, the observations “provided the first idea” of how this process is going.
As noted in the article, more than a year before the incident, the planet was near the outskirts of the star, and it absorbed parts of its atmosphere. The explosion, when the star completely enveloped the planet, lasted for ten days. Then a strong glow was observed for another half a year, when the remnants of the planet were being absorbed.
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