When stars reach the end of their life cycles, they expand to gigantic sizes—bad luck for all planets in the system that orbit too close to their host star: they are simply swallowed up. The research team has now observed this process in real time for the first time. The spectacle occurred about 12,000 light-years away, but can only be inferred indirectly from Earth based on the star’s variable brightness and chemical composition.
In fact, explorer Kechalai D of the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics in Space Research at MIT initially thought of a completely different phenomenon. At first he blamed the interaction of two closely orbiting stars for the rapid increase in the star’s brightness in the constellation Aquila, which he detected in data from the Zwicky Transit Facility (ZTF). Here too, it can happen that the star absorbs and engulfs the matter of its neighbor. However, the data did not fit the models of such binary systems, which is why De went in search of another explanation.
Like him and his colleagues In the journal “Nature” Now report that the star with the acronym ZTF SLRN-2020 showed a sharp increase in its brightness by a factor of 100 lasting about ten days, followed by a prolonged “cold” glow that lasted about half a year. Observations using infrared telescopes and spectroscopy of stellar flare confirmed their suspicion that a star at the end of its life had swallowed a planet estimated to be about ten times the mass of Jupiter.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”