Aug 8, 2022

New simulations zoom in on planets swallowed by their stars

Posted by in categories: food, life extension

You’ve likely heard the story by now: As the Sun grows old, it will swell up into a red giant. And as it expands, it will certainly swallow Mercury and Venus — and potentially Earth and even Mars — along the way.

This process, called planetary engulfment, is likely common across the galaxy, as aging stars eat up their own planets (and even companion stars or brown dwarfs). But astronomers still don’t understand exactly what happens to an unlucky planet that suddenly finds itself inside its parent star. Now, complex models called hydrodynamical simulations are shedding some light on the phenomenon, showing that factors such as a planet’s mass and the age of its star when it’s engulfed can have profound effects on what happens as the world is overtaken.

Leave a reply