Scientists have come up with accurate modeling that shows how the end of the central star of the solar system will occur and what fate awaits the sun after death.
The death of the sun is one of the topics that has always been a part of astronomers’ research work, and scientists have predictions about how the solar system will end. However, humans are not close to such an event that they can see it up close.
In the past, astronomers thought the sun would turn into a planetary nebula when it died. A glowing bubble of gas and dust made up of star debris. But evidence shows that the star must be much more massive to form a planetary nebula. However, in 2018, an international team of astronomers re-examined the issue and found that the planetary nebula is in fact the most likely shape for the end of the sun.
The process of the death of the sun
The sun is about 4.6 billion years old. This number is based on the age of other solar system objects formed at the same time. On the other hand, according to other star observations, astronomers predict that the star in our system will reach the end of its life in about 10 billion years.
Of course, other events take place in the path of the death of the central star of the solar system. The sun will become a red giant in about 5 billion years. The star’s core shrinks, but its outer layers extend to the orbit of Mars, devouring the Earth if it is still in place.
What is certain is that we will not exist at that time. In fact, humanity can only live on Earth for another 1 billion years, unless, as Ilan Musk envisions, a way is found to leave the planet; Because the brightness of the sun increases by about 10% every 1 billion years.
Although it may not seem like much, it is so severe that it will end life on earth. The oceans evaporate and the earth’s surface becomes very hot to form liquid water. Human beings will be completely destroyed in this situation.
This is what happens with the formation of a red giant that is confirmed and difficult to change. Various studies in the past have shown that the primary star must be twice as massive as the Sun to form a glowing planetary nebula.
Formation of a planetary nebula
But a 2018 study, the new version of which was published in the journal Nature Astronomy, used computer modeling and found that, like 90% of other stars, our sun is likely to eventually turn from a red giant to a white dwarf, forming a planetary nebula. It is part of the process of death.
“When a star dies, it launches a mass of gas and dust known as an envelope into space,” said Albert Zijlstra, an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester. The envelope can have a mass of half a star. “This reveals the core of the star, which is running out of fuel at this point in the star’s life.”
“This way, the hot core makes the expelled envelope shine for up to 10,000 years,” he said. This is what makes the Planetary Nebula visible. Some of them are so bright that they can be seen from great distances of tens of light-years. “Where the light of the star itself was much weaker to observe.”
New model of planetary nebulae
The data model created by this research team actually predicts the life cycle of different types of stars to determine the brightness of the planetary nebula related to different masses of stars.
Planetary nebulae are commonly seen around the world, including the Spiral Nebula, the Cat’s Eye Nebula, the Ring Nebula, and the Bubble Nebula. These objects have nothing to do with planets but are so named because they were first looked like planet-like telescopes when first discovered by William Herschel in the late 18th century.
About 30 years ago, astronomers discovered a strange thing: the brightest planetary nebulae in other galaxies all have the same brightness. So, at least in theory, astronomers can calculate the distances of planetary nebulae in other galaxies by observing them.
The data from the measurements showed that this was true, but the modeling suggested something else that has occupied the minds of scientists since its discovery. “Old, low-mass stars must form much weaker planetary nebulae than younger, more massive stars, and this contradiction between observations and modeling has been a challenge for the past 25 years,” Ziegelstra said.
The data say that glowing planetary nebulae can be made up of low-mass stars like the Sun, but modeling suggests this is not possible, and anything less than twice the mass of the Sun makes the Planet Nebula too weak to see.
Finally, the 2018 research models have solved this problem by showing that the Sun is near the lower limit of mass for stars that turn into planetary nebulae.
A star with a mass less than 1.1 times that of the Sun cannot form a visible nebula. Larger stars, on the other hand, will produce brighter nebulae up to three times the mass of the Sun. For all other stars in this period, the predicted brightness was very close to what was observed.
Accurate modeling that, as Zieglestra puts it, works well. Not only do we now have a way to measure the presence of multibillion-year-old stars in distant galaxies, a range that is very difficult to measure, but we have even figured out what the sun will look like when it dies.
Cover photo: Graphic design of the death of the sun
Credit: Science Insider
Source: Science Aelert