Researchers have forecast the eventual fate that may await our own planet.
A group of astrophysicists studying the dust of shattered “corpse planets” in the atmospheres of dying white dwarf stars have highlighted a doomsday scenario, which states that one day in the distant future, the sun will explode and destroy our nearby planets, roast the Earth’s surface and probably kill us all.
Scientists from the University of Warwick used the Hubble Space Telescope to examine the chemical mix of 80 such stars.
They found oxygen, magnesium, iron and silicon – and most importantly carbon – indicating these stars may once have sustained earth-like planets, News.com.au reported.
Lead researcher Professor Boris Gansicke asserted that when stars reach the end of their lives they expand to become red giants as the nuclear fuel in their cores is depleted.
“When this happens in our own solar system, billions of years from now, the sun will engulf the inner planets Mercury and Venus,” Prof Gansicke said.
“It’s unclear whether the Earth will also be swallowed up by the sun in its red giant phase – but even if it survives, its surface will be roasted.”
As the Earth cops the worst case of sunburn in its history, the sun will lose mass, causing the planets to collide as they move further outwards in destabilised orbits, research suggested.
“This may even shatter entire terrestrial planets, forming large amounts of asteroids, some of which will have chemical compositions similar to those of the planetary core,” Prof Gansicke said.
Jupiter will be the only planet to survive this situation unscathed, scattering asteroids towards the white dwarf and their inevitable destruction, he said.