Is it possible to determine the fate of Planet Earth by studying the remnants of dead stars in other solar systems? Many scientists think it is.
The Sun and the planets that orbit it comprise our Solar System. Each of the planets in a Solar System attracts to itself other moons, minor planets, comets, asteroids, gas and dust. The Sun is the greatest entity in our Solar System and since larger masses have the greatest gravitational pull, it constantly tugs at the planets and their satellites. While the Sun is pulling on the planets, the planets are trying to fly off into outer space. The planets then become trapped between the two opposing forces. Poised between sailing toward the Sun and soaring off into space, they are perpetually revolving around their parent star.
Recently University of Cambridge scientists reported that they have examined two dead star systems situated about 150 light-years from Earth that may give us a glimpse of what Earth’s Solar System could look like one day. Using the Hubble Space Telescope to examine the chemical remains of the stars, it was discovered that these burnt-out solar systems are packed with silicon and carbon, the same components found in materials that make up planets like Earth and our Solar System. These dead stars, referred to in the scientific community as white dwarfs, are located in the constellation Taurus in a star cluster called Hyades. Computer simulations show us that as stars age and discard their outer layers they lose mass and destabilize the environments around them. Instead of being surrounded by empty space as one would expect, the remnants of these stars are packed with asteroid-like debris. This debris falls onto these dead stars and contaminates them. When this happens, they are referred to as ‘dirty’ stars.
The previously mentioned burnt-out stars are very similar to our Sun. The scientists’ recent discovery gives us some indication as to how our Sun will die and what will happen in our Solar System when it does. When our Sun’s nuclear fuel is depleted or runs low, our Sun will gradually enlarge until its outer layers are blown free. A few of the inner planets will be engulfed by the eruption and their asteroids will be hurled out of their orbits. Asteroids that swerve too close to the sun will be broken up and the resulting debris will be drawn into a ring around our now-dead Sun. The resulting debris from these events will fall onto our Sun and turn it into a dirty star.
NOTE: It is never too early for the human race to start searching for a solution to a catastrophic natural occurrence such as this, but there is still time for experts to come up with a plan to save our world. Scientists speculate that this scenario involving our Sun and Solar System won’t occur for approximately five billion years.